Posted by: aediculaantinoi | February 23, 2012

PantheaCon 2012: Transgender Inclusion/Exclusion

This will be the first of (at least) six posts I do on this blog, beginning with “PantheaCon 2012″ in the subject line, that will outline some of my experiences at and thoughts about PantheaCon over the past weekend (as well as some things that happened just before it or just after it as well while I was still in the Bay Area). As this seems to be the topic-of-interest-of-the-moment, I thought I’d better address it as soon as possible, and had been planning to do so.

I will say, as a preface, that I have not yet been able to read everything that has been written on this topic on the wider pagan blogosphere/internet presence (and as I don’t have a FaceBook account, nor do I plan on getting one, there’s huge portions of the conversation that are inaccessible to me). I will be working through some of the posts noted by The Wild Hunt in this linked entry in the near future, and I also have already read a few by Star Foster (though she’s written more entries on this topic that I’ve read recently but didn’t link to there), Lupa, T. Thorn Coyle, and Yeshe Rabbit. I will speak more about the specifics of this situation (i.e. protesting a particular ritual’s presence at PantheaCon) in a few moments, but there are some further dimensions of this topic that I feel need to be put into context first.

There were a wide variety of queer events at this year’s PantheaCon–perhaps not quite as wide as one might (still!) wish, but nonetheless a decent-enough representation. The first event on PantheaCon’s official 2012 program that I attended was one such: the 1:30 PM Friday afternoon event “Queer Pagan Panel: Exploring Unity in Diversity,” organized/moderated by Michelle Mueller, and on which there were three panelists (Michael Smith, Marie Cartier, and Elena Rose). I have to say, Elena Rose was a person that I am very happy to have met during this particular PantheaCon, and I’m glad my introduction to her was through her participation in this important session, as otherwise I suspect I never would have seen her, or if I had, I would not have simply walked up and introduced myself (even though I always hope I’ll have the nerve to do so when I see someone as interesting as she is). Very interestingly, someone in the audience referred to her as “Lilith” in one of her questions, which I heard Elena remark upon later in a somewhat bemused fashion; indeed, she was carrying the boundless possibilities, passion, and power of this goddess quite visibly in a great deal of the encounters with her that I had throughout the weekend. I hope to be in further contact with her. I thank Michelle for having put on this event (and would love to speak further with you, Michelle, when you have time!), and for the other panelists’ participation in it, but I have to say, with honesty and without any intent to offend nor downplay the other wonderful people on the panel and their contributions to it, that Elena’s presence there was the highlight of that particular event for me.

Immediately after that first Friday session was the first of my own presentations, which I’ll be covering in a full and separate entry in this blog in the coming days. Later that day, I also attended the session by Dr. Hayden Reynolds’ (of Circle of Dionysos) on “Lifting the Veil: Exploring Our Own Gender Diversity.” A good event, if for no other reason than that I got to speak a bit more with Rachel Pollack–who I’ve known via e-mail and phone for many years, but was finally able to meet in-person on this occasion–and also met a wonderful older woman during the partner-work that we did in this session. A good bit of the session had a guided visualization in it, and those simply don’t work very well for me, so that tendency continued for me, but nonetheless it was useful to have attended it, and to have witnessed the presence of so many trans and gender-diverse attendees at PantheaCon in a relatively close environment.

Much of Saturday involved either academic things, or some “personal” work of various sorts, as well as participation in a performance/ritual in the evening’s final slot–more on those in future entries in this series. Sunday, however, was into the thick of things once again, beginning with the 11:00 AM panel organized by the Circle of Dionysos called “Queer Rites: Making Meaning for and from Sexual/Gender Diversity.” Dr. Sarah Astarte was our (sexy-voiced!) moderator, and the panelists were myself, Dr. Hayden Reynolds, joi wolfwomyn, and T. Thorn Coyle. I found the panel to be quite excellent, and it will be available on T. Thorn Coyle’s Elemental Castings podcast series in the near future, so I will certainly make everyone aware of that as soon as it comes out–to be honest, I’d love to give it another listen or two once it is available, because there was so much excellent material brought up in it that I was not always fully able to absorb on the occasion itself. Elena Rose once again made an appearance, and her comments and question were so incredibly salient that we were pretty much made speechless at them, so I thank her once again for playing such a positive and important role in that event as well.

I ended up sitting out the 1:30 session (I probably attended the smallest number of sessions of any PantheaCon I’ve yet attended at this particular one, having needed a lot of time to myself, as well as time well spent with friends and colleagues, in order to properly digest everything), but was hell-bent on attending the 3:30 session, “An Open Discussion of Gender and Transgender in Modern Paganism,” with the Circle of Cerridwen, ever since I heard it was going to be offered. The Circle of Cerridwen not only organized the discussion that followed some of the events in relation to gender/transgender exclusion last year at PantheaCon, but also organized and published the anthology Gender and Transgender in Modern Paganism, which was available after the discussion, and which I will be digging into very soon. I highly recommend that everyone who is interested in this topic BUY SEVERAL COPIES OF IT!!! I don’t think any informed discussion of this issue, particularly as it relates to the events of PantheaCons 2011 and 2012, will be complete without it. Having said that, I emphasize again that I have not yet read it, but I will be rectifying that in the immediate future.

The discussion itself, to be honest, was one of the most beautifully and movingly constructed events for which I’ve ever been present at PantheaCon, and all thanks and praise for this goes to Gina Pond, Sarah Thompson, and the other members of the Circle of Cerridwen, who did a fantastic job in every respect creating and holding the energy and space for this event. I honestly wish that the con’ would have allotted a larger room for it to take place in, as the place was full-up before it began, and more and more people entered; it was never crowded, but there were several people standing for much (if not all) of the very useful discussion, and that discussion overflowed the allotted time. Given that the head of PantheaCon programming was present at the discussion, however, that wasn’t a problem…But, I have to say, I’m sad that I didn’t see more of the people who were involved in the situation the year before, or who have sounded off about it since, at the session itself–this would have been the ideal context in which to move toward greater understanding and acceptance of the diversity within our wider pagan community on this matter that have often been expressed in the written statements I’ve seen since, and in which there would never have been questions of motivation, or of opposition, or of any other such thing that has been present in some of the responses I’ve seen in the past few days.

Gina first began by saying that she was carrying the energy of Crow as protection for this event, and she briefly invoked Hekate, the Morrígan, the Dagda, Jesus, Lilith, and a few others I’m now forgetting for their blessings and protection on what followed. The quarters were then called in a traditional fashion, and at last, Sarah rose and spoke that she was carrying the energies of Lilith, Gautama the Buddha, and Jesus in order to help with this event. (Any of you who might cast dispersions on either of them for doing this, shut the fuck up right now, because they brought it completely and utterly, even if this might break some traditionalists’ brains…they did not claim at any point to be doing anything traditional or culturally-exclusive or ancient, and thus they did not misrepresent themselves, nor did they in any way dishonor the deities concerned in their subsequent work, and I will have words with anyone who would suggest otherwise.) Sarah then asked each of us to introduce ourselves, and say whether we were speaking for a particular tradition or group or whether we spoke for ourselves. As each person did this, she then bowed to the person and said “I love you unconditionally, and surrender myself to your compassion.” This took a while, but it created an atmosphere that was not only beautiful and heart-felt and deeply effective, but also entirely necessary in order for a conversation like this to have occurred at all.

I don’t know what bonds of confidentiality I am under for having participated in the conversation–none were made explicit to me on the occasion that I recall–however, I do know for a fact that I cannot convey some of the things that were expressed during that ritual (and it was more a ritual than a discussion or conversation, I think, for reasons I’ll explain in a moment) because nearly everyone, even when they did speak for or from a particular tradition or group, spoke primarily for themselves; indeed, those who did speak for themselves first and foremost were deeply genuine and moving in what they had to say. Those of us who were in or were from groups or traditions, after the introductions were made, were asked to rise, and Gina laid down the staff she had been carrying, and an end to all war and hate over this issue was declared, and a prayer for peace and respect was expressed. We went around the room in a clockwise direction, and a talking stick was given to each person who wished to speak in turn, and everyone who wanted to speak was able to do so. There were no responses, rebuttals, or questions allowed after each person spoke, which made this less of a conversation or discussion, and therefore more of a ritual in which we simply witnessed for and held space for any and all opinions to be expressed. And that, dear friends, was beautiful.

Incidentally, I identified myself as P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, and I said I speak from the tradition of the Ekklesía Antínoou, and on behalf of the gods Panpsyche, Panhyle, Paneros, and Pancrates. The use of the preposition “from” there was very deliberate, because I don’t think anyone from any tradition, but particularly from the Ekklesía Antínoou, speaks “for” it; all of us who are part of one tradition or another have a home within it, as it were, and speak from our own position as stakeholders in the land of that tradition, and the tradition and its gods speak through us, but none of us speak “for” it. As I’m one of the only ones with a cultic relationship with the Tetrad at this point, however, I felt very comfortable saying that I speak on the behalf of those gods, because at this point, no one else really can. I hope that’s understood in what I say which follows, and indeed, in everything I have said or ever will say on the present blog, in my books, or in person in relation to Antinous or the Ekklesía Antínoou. (The situation with the Tetrad, if all goes well, will be changing in the coming weeks!)

Some of the things that were said in that space–including the remarks of Elena Rose (who sat next to me)–brought nearly everyone present to tears. Some of them were greeted with applause, or laughter, or genuine shared joy. Many present also brought the presence of their gods specifically to the proceedings, including Baldr!

I will try to convey what I said on that occasion as closely as possible to how I remember it; the general structure of what follows is exact, but the precise words may not be. In the “story” part of it, I actually had no idea where I was going with the story, and didn’t find out where I was going with it until I actually got to that point in it–and I’m happy about where I ended up, and in fact a few people who were present quoted it back to me the next day. That part of my story was greeted with both laughter and applause, for which I am deeply grateful and was highly pleased–it was not intended for my remarks to have a “punchline,” but the very vivid illustration of my gender journey and identity that it did end up providing was quite suitable and empowering, at least in my own experience and perspective.

I want to do three things in my remarks here.

First, I want to express my thanks to everyone who is here, who has shared their stories and who has brought the presence of their gods to this space and to this very important event.

Second, I want to share a story of my own. As I explained in the panel this morning, my gender identity is metagender. This story happened when I was three years old, and was being sent to a Baptist day care (not by choice!). We were having a parade for some occasion, in which we were all told to make paper hats. We were each given a piece of newspaper and some stickers, and were instructed how to fold those pieces of paper in order to make two different types of hat. After a number of folds, we ended up with a tall witch’s hat, which is what the girls were supposed to make; then, with another few folds, one ended up with a shorter sailor’s hat, which is what the boys were supposed to make. Once I got to the point of having my witch’s hat, I was satisfied, and wanted to wear a witch’s hat. But, I was told by the overseers in the daycare that I had done it wrong, and that I needed to keep folding it to make the sailor’s hat. I didn’t want to, and just wore my witch’s hat. Eventually, the hat was taken off of my head, the further folds were put on it, and it was handed back to me, and then I was expected to march in the parade.

And today, I wear a fucking leopard print fez, with peacock feathers in it.

Third, I want to bring everyone here the blessings of the gods that I represent. They made themselves known to me soon after the events of last year, and the gods ended up working on a solution to some of those problems–in fact, many of the gods who are represented in this room right now had a hand in that solution, more than forty of them in fact. The names of those gods are Panpsyche, Panhyle, Paneros, and Pancrates, and their names mean something that will make sense to anyone who has gone on the path of exploring their own gender identity and gender diversity: All-Soul, All-Body, All-Love, and All-Power.

Thank you.

In that moment for me, the deities were expressing a great deal of sadness at everything they had heard their children convey in the discussion; it was difficult even pronouncing their names because in doing so, their sadness was coming through very powerfully. As Sarah, carrying the energies of the deities she was representing, bowed to me after I finished my words, there was a profound recognition between us–and, I will have more to say on that matter in my coverage of some of the other events at PantheaCon in my future entries over the next few days.

I went from there to get a copy of the anthology, and bought a few extra copies that were left free for the taking for anyone who wanted them–I was representing four deities on that occasion, and buying less than four copies was pretty much not an option as far as they were concerned. From there, I went to have some dinner in my hotel room, and then went to Oracles of the Living Tarot, which is always one of my favorite events at PantheaCon; this year was no exception, for so many reasons.

After that, I had a long-standing commitment that I needed/was required to attend. I had been asked by Yeshe Rabbit a few short weeks ago to attend, and participate in (with the Tetrad!), the Come As You Are Coven Grove of Artemis and The Living Temple of Diana’s “Rite of the Bear Mother,” which would have been wonderful to have attended for so many reasons. Unfortunately, my other commitment was not one that could be shifted elsewhere in time or space, so that wasn’t possible, alas. During that same 9:00 PM time slot, Z. Budapest’s “The Sacred Body of Woman (Self-Blessing)” ritual was also on, and a group of nearly ninety people also gathered to silently protest it, organized by T. Thorn Coyle. I was not at that protest, but several other people who were present have reported on it, so I leave all of you to seek out their stories and their accounts of it.

For me, the wonderful and transformative work around these issues took place at the discussion/ritual that afternoon. That spirit of genuine compassion, respect, and forgiveness existed, I think, for everyone who attended that event, and persisted with me for the rest of the con’ (and hopefully beyond as well). Yes, there were people present who were Dianic and were not in favor of Z. Budapest’s position on things; there were others who may or may not have been Dianic, but who were in favor of having segregated spaces and things for “non-trans women only,” though they have not shifted their vocabulary to indicate that, and were insistent that they love trans women and accept them and so forth. I’m not happy that there is such division and often hatred around these issues in the pagan community, but I’m also not at all interested in making one faction or another “convert” to my own viewpoint simply due to public pressure.

The issue, from the discussion on the last day of PantheaCon 2011, right up until the present, has often been phrased in terms of “trans inclusion” (on one side) and “freedom of religion” (on the other). And, in this, I find myself having some difficulties, because I’m entirely in favor of both, even to the point of demanding it in the events that I have a hand in directing. I am a follower of the Silver Rule–“Don’t do to others what you wouldn’t have them do to you”–and on further reflection about the protest of Z.’s ritual, I cannot say that if I had been free, I would have taken part in the protest against it, even though Z.’s comments and actions are hurtful to my dearly beloved trans sisters, and to me. It would be very easy for homophobic pagans to boycott or protest any of the Ekklesía Antínoou’s events in the future, or for strict reconstructionists to do likewise, or for any number of other people to do likewise; and, I can only assume that it would therefore be possible for any one of us to get a group together and to protest any event at PantheaCon, whether loudly or silently. And, even though the presence of such protestors might not dissuade me from doing whatever it is I was going to be doing, gods, it would hurt to know that anyone essentially objected to my right to be doing whatever it is I was doing, and I would never want to put anyone through that. I know both Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech mean that we can object to things we don’t like freely, but given that we as pagans, as queer people, and as gender transgressors (which Z. Budapest and her Dianic followers, and myself, and many trans people, and T. Thorn Coyle, all share as characteristics) have enough trouble from a mainstream overculture that has made its hatred and exclusion of us a cornerstone of their ideology. Thus, I hope we can devise a way forward in all of this that doesn’t involve protests, or empty rhetoric, or isolationism and lack of connection, and that dialogue can be direct whenever and wherever possible.

I’m upset that the only options that are being presented seem to be “ally with Z. and be a bigot,” or “stand for inclusion and dictate what others do.” Certainly, I’m deeply saddened and offended that Z.’s understanding of “women” doesn’t include trans women, but I’m equally saddened that the solution seems to be “she needs to change her mind or face ostracism.” We’ve been hearing, over and over again, that pluralism is one of the potential strengths of our modern pagan communities, but that pluralism seems to extend mostly to deities and to theologies, rather than to practices–and it is practices that we are really “best at” as far as being a religion of practice and of experience. In my reaction to some of Z.’s statements last year in the aftermath of PantheaCon, I was especially offended by the fact that she pretty much dictated what the “proper” rituals and mysteries for trans women should be (which were, in fact, entirely inappropriate); and, in many respects, she’s dictating gender identity, and saying that some people who identify as women are not, and thus her definition somehow trumps theirs. Now, honestly, I’m rather offended that the best solution some people have come up with in this discussion is to do exactly the same back to her and tell her that she should conduct her rituals exactly as we think she should, rather than as she feels most comfortable. Yes, it’s a difference of dictating identity and definitions versus dictating practice, but the problem of “dictating” is common to both, and something that I’m really not a fan of at all. (And this from someone who worships a few Roman emperors!) I never thought I’d say this, to be honest, but now I feel as though I’m defending Z.’s right to do something that I think is disrespectful, distasteful, and destructive…but, I am a hardcore supporter of democracy, free speech, and freedom of religion, a hardcore pluralist, and a hardcore supporter of unity in diversity, so there we are.

So, here’s some observations on some of the various different factions in all of this. While my presence at protests and such was not possible, and thus my “stake” in the issues may seem to be less or less immediate than those of others, because I’m of an atypical gender identity (which is not cisgendered, but also isn’t transgendered), there is certainly a very deep stake for me in these matters. My inclusion and recognition in terms of gender is almost impossible if trans people are not included, and until that particular “fight” is won and completed, I cannot hope for my own inclusion or understanding in the wider community; however, I am not “in it to win it” just because it will ultimately be to my benefit to have trans people’s actual gender and their lives and identities affirmed and accepted, but because it’s the right thing to do, full-stop, from any and every spiritual viewpoint I know of that is worth mentioning and that deserves the term “spiritual viewpoint.”

With all of that in mind:

1. To Z. Budapest. I have never met you, but I hope to meet you in-person at some point in the future, and to know you more directly than I have been able to previous to the present, and to do so in a direct way that is not influenced by others’ accounts of you. I am thankful for all that you’ve done over decades of history to advance the cause of the goddesses you represent, and to advance the cause of women in the world and in spiritual community. I am thankful to all of my goddesses and gods that you have developed a practice that so many women have found affirming and productive and life-enhancing over those many years, and that you have specialized in bringing those messages to a particular section of the community of modern women with which you have developed a rapport. I hope that your work continues in this manner for as many years as it is possible for you to do so in the future. My question to you is: would it be at all possible to continue having rituals and events in which cisgendered women only participate, but also to have some that would actually prove your words about being affirmative of trans women’s sacredness to be true rather than empty rhetoric? (CAYA Coven has done this quite admirably, I think…”both/and” approaches are awfully effective and are usually preferable to “either/or” ones, I think.) Or, failing that, would it be possible for you to sit down with trans people (and people of any/all gender identities), in a spirit of acceptance and compassion and mutual respect, as many of us did on last Sunday afternoon, and at least speak openly and honestly to our faces about your views, and why you hold them?

2. To T. Thorn Coyle (and the Protestors). Thorn, I deeply love and appreciate all the work you’ve done, and am continually inspired and provoked by it. I am profoundly thankful to have sat on the same panel with you on Sunday morning, and to have benefited from your insight and your presence on that occasion. I certainly understand that in your silent protest, you did what you thought was most appropriate in these circumstances, and it is something that you’re known for and have done on other occasions, including in the recent Occupy Movement actions. I wonder if there is some way forward that we can find to actually be inclusive and affirming of our different stances without making our own viewpoints “okay” and those that are different from them “not okay,” even when the “not-okay-ness” is expressed in silence and physical presence rather than in words. Doing things outside other’s rituals that intimidate and dissuade people from attending them–especially since doing so won’t prevent them from happening, nor will they change the minds and opinions of those who are attending or were too afraid to attend–doesn’t at this stage sound to me like the best course of action, but I likewise don’t know what would have been a preferable option at the time, so I’d be interested in hearing more from you on what some further options could be in situations like this in the future.

3. To Yeshe Rabbit, and those who “stood between.” I love and appreciate you deeply, Rabbit, and have done so since those heady days back in the late 90s when we were in college together (even though I was only a lowly undergraduate at the time!). When I swore my oath to you as a tribal ally through the Communalia ritual in 2009, I took those words very seriously indeed, and I plan to continue doing so in the future, until my breath is gone and my heart stops. I truly wish I could have been at your ritual that night, not only because it sounded interesting and because there were people at it that I’d have liked to have met, but because Artemis/Diana is an important goddess to me and to my god, Antinous, who was a “bear-boy” in his own day in many respects. I admire the strength and the courage that you and the others showed in terms of wanting to “stand between” both the protestors and the attendees at Z.’s ritual, as well as Z. herself; in doing this, you embodied Artemis and the fierceness of the bear in so many wonderful ways. Unfortunately, because it wasn’t clear to many people present what you were doing by “standing between,” your actions have been mischaracterized in the aftermath, and I hope that such misunderstandings get cleared up very soon and are not a problem. The human tendency–which I’m as guilty of as anyone–to not always notice the energy or the intent of others when they do something important is lamentable, but is sometimes easily addressed by clear signage.

Now, having said all that, the question–as ever, with everything–is: where do we go from here? I have a suggestion, if anyone would like to be a part of it.

I’m planning on proposing a Communalia ritual next year for PantheaCon. In previous years, the Communalia has been one part of a larger ritual, that often also involves Lupercalia and some echo of Parentalia. But, I think Communalia on-its-own is something that may really need to take place in the future. Come As You Are Coven has already taken part in this with us (as have four other groups), but I’d like to bring in some others as well, and to have Yeshe Rabbit and others present for the occasion as fellow “Communalians.” The Circle of Dionysos has done a lot in which I’ve shared, and I sort of include them “by default” in my prayers for the other groups with which we’ve done Communalia, but I’d like to make that “official” in the future. I am so enthralled with the work that Circle of Cerridwen has done, I’d like to have a Communalia ritual with them as well. I’ve expressed interest to some other groups over the years to do this ritual with us, and I’d like to ask some of them again if they would be interested in doing so. Thorn and Z., would you be willing to do Communalia with us next year, on behalf of yourselves but also on behalf of the communities that you represent and the traditions from which you work?

I’d be very interested in hearing your thoughts on these matters, and look forward to anyone’s responses on the above when they have a few moments to write. I’ll continue with my narrative of the (less-charged!) events of PantheaCon in the days to come!


Responses

  1. The Circle of Cerridwen event sounds like it was awesome. As for the issue itself…you know I found myself in the “standing between” position online last year, and you know how that went. Given that and the fact that I wasn’t at P-con this year, I’m trying not to enter the new fray. (In fact, on my livejournal I was a bit catty about it. I can only say in my defense that it’s friends-only for Reasons.) Leave it to say that I am in deep resonance with the take on “both-and” that you express here.

    I’d love to see Communalia be a bigger deal at future P-cons. I thought when I attended on behalf of Sharanya that alliance-building ritual was something that’s needed more than it’s done, and I only think so more now.

    • Thank you for your comments!

      Yes, I think the Communalia needs to be “out there” more, and I do hope that some of the people I’ve invited to it in the present entry take that invitation very seriously, because I would not have extended it if I were not serious.

      It would certainly be nice if Z. shifted her language and was less offensive toward trans people–if she ends up doing that, it will be a hands-down victory for everyone (including, ultimately, Z., in my opinion); and it would also be nice if people would stop vilifying Z. and turning her into a “Nazi,” which she clearly isn’t, and making this about “good pagans vs. Dianics” and so forth.

      The politics of reconciliation–crikey…but, I don’t have to tell you about that, do I?

      (Incidentally, some friends of mine, after a bit of personal work/ritual that I did before PantheaCon began last Thursday, took me to that huge statue of St. Mary not too far from San Jose. It was quite a beautiful experience, and I got a lot out of doing so.)

      • Ooh, I haven’t actually been. I should keep it in mind for next time I’m in the area.

  2. For the most part, I’ve sat on the sidelines this past week and watched this debate unfold without saying anything. Really, it’s such a complex issue that I felt it was better for me not to try to add to the conversation. In some ways I’m quite distant from the entire subject. I’ve never been to PantheaCon (or to any Pagan festival/ convention! I’ll admit it, I’m very shy in real life and have great difficulty dealing with social situations. I suspect, like Star Foster, that I have Asperger’s, but I digress :) ) I also don’t know any Dianics in real life or transgendered people. For the most part, though, my sympathies have tended to be with those people who have felt excluded for being transgender and those who are outraged at Z.’s language regarding them. I also, however, have been either blessed or cursed with the ridiculous ability to see and sympathize with various sides of a debate. (What’s that make me? An empathic autistic?? Is that even possible?) So, I understand the Dianic women who feel like their tradition is under attack and who are getting very defensive about that (of course, I’m not saying that this debate is about ‘attacking’ their tradition, but I’m sure it probably feels that way to many of them).

    • Thank you for commenting!

      Indeed, it’s a very complex matter, and unfortunately the lines have been blurred by well-meaning people on many sides of the issue–including myself in the past, for which I’m most regretful.

      I am very upset by how Z. has continued to provoke and to demean, even as she attempts to apologize for some of the hurt she’s caused. I’m also very upset that too many people have used this opportunity to lambast the Dianic tradition in general (which, even though Z. founded it and deserves to be recognized for such, has grown much larger than her and is largely independent of her at this stage), or used it as a kind of rallying-point for turning all forms of paganism into what they’d prefer it to be.

      I’d personally prefer all of paganism to be inclusive, welcoming, and affirming to everyone, and for my own part, I’m trying to build a tradition and a community that will be all of those things for my own tiny section of it. I don’t want to be a part of traditions that are not all-inclusive, and thus I’m fine with them going their own way. The difficulty then arises when one viewpoint attempts to dictate to the other either how to think or how to practice, and those errors have been done on several sides of this issue.

      I’ve met many trans women over the years, and love them dearly and would do anything possible to defend them and their rights. I’ve also met a small number of Dianics, and love them and cherish their friendships. I see all of them as women, full stop, and it pains me to see that one section will never grant that perception to another, and that another section therefore wants to ostracize those who think that, or intimidate them into changing their views. Sad. A “both/and” solution, it seems to me, would be useful, and polytheistic to the core, but I’ll leave off reiterating that for the moment…

      Thanks again for commenting!

  3. [...] podcast), and the most recent posts at the Bay Area bureau of the Pagan Newswire Collective. I also want to highly recommend the latest blog post from P. Sufenas Virius Lupus which does address gender and transgender issues at PantheaCon, but also talks about the broader [...]

  4. Lupus, thank you 1000 times for this post. I appreciate all you wrote so skillfully here. Thank you for leading by example.

    Bring the Communalia, please. What a great way to work on this. I am in it for the long haul with you. All of you. All of us.

    Love,
    Rabbit

    • Thank you, dear friend, for all you do!

      (And, incidentally, if I have not said so before now, your OLT performance was not only fantastic and beautiful as it was, but provided a brilliant insight into the last year, I think, and was a fantastic foreshadowing of what was about to happen after OLT. Fortuna herself, I think, is pleased by your performance in that instance, and in the subsequent events!)

      So, we shall see what we can do about Communalia-ing with as many folks as possible next year! I sincerely hope that there will be interest in it, and will begin making some inquiries with different groups in the near future.

      Back to the long road again, then! :)

  5. I just made a post <a href="http://lettersfromgehenna.blogspot.com/2012/02/d-is-for-divine-androgyne.html&quot;which mentions Pancrates (possibly in syncretism with Heru-pa-Khered/Harpocrates) which I figured was worth drawing your attention to, and this seems a not-bad place to note it.

    Meanwhile, I am profoundly tickled by your reactions to Elena Rose. ;)

    • I shall look at that in a few moments!

      Yes, Elena Rose is awesome-sauce with a side of “day-amn!” for sure, a real force of nature and a divine presence in so many respects. Do you know her personally? I hope to get in further touch with her in the near future, but I am pleased not only with what she said and did over the con’, and the work she is doing more widely, but also it makes me happy that she is under the age of 30. I’ve always had great hope for the youth in the future of modern paganism, and she’s a shining example of that, in my opinion. :)

      • She’s my sis. ;) We adopted each other a few years ago. We sit around the internets together talking monster theology and doing each other’s hair.

      • It’s comments like this one that make me wish even more than I usually do that I had more hair! ;)

  6. Less bollixed URL:

    http://lettersfromgehenna.blogspot.com/2012/02/d-is-for-divine-androgyne.html

    • Wonderful stuff! (I tried to comment over there, but the “word verification” thing has not been working on my end at all for some reason on many people’s Blogspot accounts recently, alas…) Thanks so much for sharing that, and I’m glad that Pancrates was helpful in it!

      • I’m sorry it was being mean to you. I was picking up a lot of comment spam, unfortunately.

        The actual experience with the Solar Child I was writing about there actually happened not long after you posted about those Four.

      • Wonderful!

        There are debates elsewhere at the moment about “made-up gods,” and even though I mentioned the Tetrad in them, recent experiences have erased almost all of the skepticism I’ve had about this, and that they’re not just figments of my own imagination. (The healthy neo-agnosticism that I have often had over the years seems to be melting away…and good riddance on that!)

  7. This is the perspective I was waiting for! And you didn’t disappoint friend. Well said on all points. :D

    Can you give me an explanation of Communalia? It sounds very interesting if I understand it correctly, but I want to be sure we’re on the same page.

    I hope to have my personal project completed (or at least some presentable fashion of it) by next years P-Con and so be able to bring my spirits with me physically when I go. I’ve “cleaned up” my understanding of my ‘pantheon’ so to speak and in so doing I believe I’ve made it more accessible.

    Over the years I’ve been working with my spirits I’ve introduced them to maybe a dozen other people in a direct physical audience fashion (thus my trepidation to “presenting” any of my art online, it is literally like showing off my friends and I don’t want to make them a spectacle or get them off on the wrong foot!) and introduced them through trance journeying to even fewer.

    It is my intention to create at least a physical audience (setting up my altar and then showing folks how best to approach) for them at P-Con ’13 if not a full trance journey introduction, most likely in a private room/suite/however that works. You of course will be invited to participate at your leisure/availability. If all goes well I may attempt a public audience at P-Con ’14 if possible.

    More on topic, this kerfuffle (for want of a better word) over gender issues at the P-Cons has gotten me thinking a lot about my own experiences of sex, gender, & sexuality. As a cisman (I was once called the most average looking guy ever born by a friend, average meaning “typical” or “normal”) I’m not especially accustomed to having my gender denied to me (for obvious reasons, although as a queer man it does happen from time to time, mostly in a lighthearted context these days) however Pagans, of all people, have been making a habit of it lately. This combined with my investigation of queer Pagan paths has lead me to some interesting places.

    To put it bluntly: On the one hand I’m not sure if I qualify as queer, on the other I’m not sure if I qualify as gender typical.

    What I mean by the first is something of a revelation I had while listening to “The Unnamed Path” podcasts. Simply put, he was talking about the ancestors of men-who-love-men and how queer men have this unique spiritual energy empowered by our ability to love as gay men (which left me wondering where this left men who weren’t exclusively same-gender attracted as he seemed to imply straight folks had a markedly different energy). It then dawned on me: I’ve experienced always experienced sexuality in sacred ways, however I’ve never felt “called apart” for being queer.

    Coupled with the fact that I’ve never been in much less had to come out (whereas the overwhelming majority of queer spirituality is coming out spirituality as you know) and that I’ve always experienced my gender as exclusively masculine (note I didn’t say macho or hypermasculine) I feel like I have no claim to queerness except for society at large still not being on board with diversity in sexuality.

    Which brings me to my other point: So many Pagans are SO insistent that EVERY MAN and EVERY WOMAN holds BOTH feminine AND masculine inside of them spiritually that I wonder if that isn’t actually true (in the sense of being commonly experienced/lived) to some degree of people in general which could theoretically cast me as gender a-typical. Purely from a social point of view many men acknowledge that they have “feminine” characteristics, however my understanding of my gender has always been very clear. My expression emanates from my identity, which is to say “I am a man, therefore I am masculine”.

    Spiritually I’ve experienced this as almost an alchemical transmutation of sorts. A kind of, “Even though I am doing this traditionally feminine thing I am not being or acting feminine because I am a man and therefore masculine and the act rather than myself is what is transformed and what was feminine becomes masculine because a man does it.”

    To be clear: My understanding of my gender as experienced and expressed is NOT due to hang ups about being perceived as feminine (I love to do drag for fun if that tells you anything) and it is NOT my belief that men cannot or should not be feminine or have femininity within them or that femininity is in anyway, shape, or form bad. I believe in the diversity of men (and other genders!) My gender is simply all I’ve ever know it to be. I guess you could say I am gender queer in a way?

    Honestly that doesn’t feel right though because of the implication in the other direction. I hesitate to use hypermasculinity because of the associations that conjures. Perhaps it is best put that my gender as a whole is that of a man who is complete unto himself in his own masculinity? Kind of sticks a monkey in the potato salad of all those polarity insisting Pagans though. Also to be clear: I fully acknowledge and own my cis privilege and leverage it wherever/whenever possible in the pursuit of gender equality. I’m not trying to shed that privilege or escape it (other than in the pursuit of equality sense) I’m merely trying to understand myself in light of the insistence by others that I am not like them.

    Any thoughts of yours on the matter would be greatly appreciated. :D

    Dave

    • Hi Dave! As it happens, your approach to masculinity is very like my approach to femininity (I’m a woman, so this whatever-I’m-doing is feminine). Very at home in a female body, but at the same time, much more “androgynous” in presentation. And like you, I have sadly found myself Not Queer Enough in some circles. (For the record, though, the Ekklesia has always been a pleasant refuge in that regard.)

      • I’m so glad we’ve lived up to the ideals I’ve hoped we would in that regard, dear friend! :) You rawk around the clock!

      • Hi Mary! I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way about my gender and that my position was explained clearly enough to understand :D

        I’m digging the EA so far, been lurking on the Yahoo group but not commented yet due to business/waiting to have some work done with which to introduce myself and my spirits.

        I find myself less and less interested in exclusively queer mens’ spaces as time goes on. Truth to tell I’ve never really been that into them in the first place but I don’t know a single guy (in meatspace) who is both queer and Pagan. I was initially drawn to find a tradition along those lines if nothing else for the novelty of being around guys who were, if not really that close to me religiously, at least in the neighborhood.

        Between you and me I was kinda, sorta, secretly hoping for the possibility of a boyfriend who would be able to groove w/ my religion w/o thinking me evil or mental. Don’t tell anyone though, my dignity can’t take the abuse! ;) mostly kidding about the last bit. :D

        Looking at a lot of the offerings for what they are I see a lot of Wicca lite w/ gay sprinkles and the usual blather about polarity, monism, etc. Yuck! And coming out spirituality as the end all and be all of queer men’s spiritual existence. Not yuck per say but in my case not applicable.

        Cheers,

        Dave

    • As always, thanks for your in-depth comments, Dave! :)

      So, the Communalia is a ritual that came about many years ago–the idea for it is as old as ’03, in fact, but the first one wasn’t performed until ’09 at PantheaCon. Being steeped in the traditions of Antinous and Hadrian, the city of Antinoöpolis, and a variety of other things, I have always been very aware that some actions by Hadrian, and by classical pagans in general, do not really sit very well with many people, and some have even used some of those actions to justify prejudice, bigotry, and hatred that I’m not at all comfortable with. The Second Jewish War/Bar Kochba Rebellion in 132-135, for example, was the only war that was fought by the Roman Empire during Hadrian’s reign, and it was a defensive war, but the ultimate effects of it are still with us to the present day. Some have suggested that Hadrian, therefore, “hated the Jews,” or that he was “against the Jewish god,” when that’s really not the case at all, I don’t think; it’s even worse that some people (including academics who should know better) have said that Hadrian built a temple to Jupiter Capitolinus on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, when in fact no one built a think on it until the Muslims built the Dome of the Rock many centuries later, and Hadrian’s temple was in fact in another location adjacent to the mount but not on it. There are a number of Christian martyrs from the city of Antinoöpolis. There’s any number of such instances of inter-religious fighting, discrimination, and hatred across history, and I’m aware that those who I acknowledge and worship as spiritual ancestors had a part in such activities. I don’t want that to continue, to say the least…

      So, I decided that some sort of ritual should take place formalizing vows between groups, to acknowledge mistakes made in the past, and to work toward building a better future as “tribal allies.” I reached out to various Christian and Jewish groups for this purpose over the years, but was not even given the courtesy of a polite refusal in response. I met EliSheva of AMHA a number of years ago, and because she represents Israelite Polytheism, and is from a family that never left Israel/Judea/Palestine after the post-Bar Kochba diaspora, I suspected she might be a good person to speak on this with–and, I wasn’t disappointed. I also initially reached out to Hrafnar, a Norse group, due to the Roman-Germanic enmities over the centuries; and, I reached out to Rabbit of Come As You Are Coven because she is a friend but also a Dianic, and Antinous and Diana shared a temple in Lanuvium outside of Rome (actually, that community is one of Diana’s major shrines worldwide). Just as I wanted to make what amends are possible for mistakes of the past, I also think continuing the “good” relations of the past and extending them is also very worthwhile. We ended up having that ceremony in 2009 as part of our PantheaCon Lupercalia ritual, and it was a great success. In 2010, we again performed it at PantheaCon with SHARANYA, a Hindu/Pagan group with a particular devotion to Kali, a goddess who is dear to me and who was quite essential in the year leading up to the beginnings of my devotion to Antinous. I have other groups I’d like to do this with eventually, and so I hope a number of them might be a part of it at next year’s PantheaCon, if possible.

      There isn’t enough intra-faith (if we think of “paganism” as an umbrella term for a family of religions) understanding, I think, apart from the assumption that everyone knows and holds certain Wiccan ideas, rituals, phrases, and such in common; I’ve even been met with a cold shoulder or some degree of hostility when I’ve suggested that such things are both useful and necessary (strangely enough, by major Wiccan interfaith activists!). So, this is a gesture in that direction as well.

      Does that make sense?

      I look forward to hearing more about, seeing, and being introduced to your own spirits as time goes on! That will be very cool indeed, and I can’t wait for the opportunity to engage in that process of introduction with you! Your plan for how to do it over the next few years sounds excellent.

      The gender matters you’re discussing are, indeed, very complex and nuanced, and the nuanced attention you’ve been able to devote to it in this (relatively small!) space is admirable. I don’t think gender is black-and-white, either/or, needless to say, and I think the idea that everyone has “masculine” and “feminine” in them is also highly conjectural. There are men who have little to no femininity in them at all, and they’re perfectly secure and comfortable, and there are men who have little to no femininity in them at all, and are total wrecks of persons. (Same for women.) I think it is perfectly possible for a person to be whatever gender they happen to be–man, woman, androgyne, or anything else (and as I’m in the latter category, of course I think this!)–and for whatever characteristics they have to be consonant with that gender. There are masculine ways of crying, of being vulnerable, of being sensitive, etc.; and, there are feminine ways of being aggressive, being active, etc.; and, this is only to take a few issues that are often characterized as “masculine” or “feminine” (wrongly, in my view!) in even the most supposedly gender-enlightened contexts. I don’t think it’s the characteristics or the actions that are gendered, in other words–a knowledge of history and comparative cultures shows that such evaluations are open-ended and up-for-grabs, at best.

      There is a way in which people tend to know and have a sense, I think, of what their gender is. Trans women do this routinely, no matter what society tries to tell them otherwise. I was thinking about this in relation to an experience I had back in ’01, when I was at the North American Conference on Bisexuality, Gender, and Sexual Diversity in Vancouver, B.C. As I was sitting there, waiting for the conference to begin, this gorgeous woman walked by, in short denim shorts, a white sleeveless button-up shirt, big black boots, and a black leather cap, and I thought to myself “Wow, that’s the butch-est woman I’ve ever seen,” and was duly impressed with her. It turned out she was a trans woman, and a lesbian…it never once crossed my mind that she wasn’t a woman, though. She spoke at the con’ about how her psychologists didn’t think she was really a woman because she was butch and a lesbian (according to the Harry Benjamin standards, etc.), which of course many of us think is bollocks (if you’ll excuse the phrase!). I think this is necessarily the case for anyone who is trans: they know deep down that they’re a gender that is different than what everyone keeps insisting on calling them.

      For myself, I also know that I’ve never been comfortable being thought of as a “man” (or as a “boy” either), but I also know that I’m not a “woman” and was never a “girl.” When I related the story above about the witch’s hat vs. the sailor’s hat, it wasn’t that I wanted to be a girl, it’s that I wanted to be what I already was, and that happened to be someone who preferred to wear a tall hat to one who wore a short one. Every time someone has expected me to “be a man” I’ve never felt comfortable or true or authentic in what they were expecting, which is how I know I’m not one. No one has ever expected me to “be a woman,” however; but, in the instances in which I’ve done drag (including the very first time I did), I’ve done it so well that I didn’t get read as a drag queen, I got read as a “really tall girl” (at 6’6, there’s no hiding some things!)–but, amidst all of that, I knew that I wasn’t a woman, I was just acting extremely well. I think of the roles and the characteristics I have, and I think many of them that are most to the fore are not things that have anything to do with gender–I’m more a “Doctor” (in the original sense of “teacher”) than I am anything else, and getting the Ph.D. was something that I did not just because I wanted mastery of a subject, but because then it would allow me to be called something other than “Mr.” or “Mrs./Ms.” on official documents.

      So, it’s pretty complex, as I’m sure you know yourself–! ;)

      I think one way to think about what you’ve outlined in terms of yourself is that you have a very comfortable, integrated, and informed view of the diversity that is possible within any particular gender position, and you accept that you have that diversity within yourself. That’s something that sets you quite apart from the fragile (and thus often aggressive and insistent…and rather boring!) masculinity that some men have. And, that’s a beautiful and wonderful thing.

      I was saying in the panel on Sunday morning that I’m tired of people trying to read things into Antinous, and trying to make him into “more of a man” than they think he is by his images and such, or (on the other hand) some people trying to make him into more of an androgyne, or a trans person, or any number of other things that are other than what he actually is. For his own time, societal position, culture, and age, he was a typical person, and that includes many things that some cultures (including Christianity then and now) would consider variant, or even deviant, as well as many things that would now be considered less-than-savory in terms of ideas of masculine superiority, etc. I’ve never experienced his gender as something insistent or fragile, however; he simply is what he is, and what he is happens to be a young man. If only that approach were more widely applied to other humans, and to other gods, I think there’d be a lot less problems in the world. But, not everyone has the advantage of having a god as comfortable in being exactly what he is as Antinous happens to be in my own experience. ;)

      As always, much more could be said, but I think you probably see where I’m going with all of this. Again, thanks so much for your conversation, and I’m dying to meet you and know more about you even than I was before! :) :) ;)

      • Communalia sounds brilliant. I especially like the maintaining/building good relations. No that healing old wounds isn’t important but that’s just the beginning aye?

        I’ve created a friendship pact ritual in my own practice whereby I can establish spiritual alliances with my friends of different religions while honoring all of our gods and spirits, our own religious needs, and without stepping on anybody’s toes. Two of my closest friends are followers of religions not typically known for their Pagan friendliness, one of them Christian the other Islamic. However they have both participated in this rite with me and the way that we put it was something along the lines of recognizing that while our souls may belong in the company of such-and-such gods/spirits we are people after each others hearts and in this life meant for shared company.

        I also make a sacred space for each god or family or gods and/or spirits represented to be able to stand next to each other in peace without overstepping each others bounds. A kind of a tacit acknowledgment of: this is your child, this is mine, if one of yours is in need I will assist them but it’s up to you to guide them and help them grow.

        If that makes any sense.

        I know what you mean about intrafaith efforts. I think that the reaction you got re: cold shoulder may have something to do with fear. Fear that if the united front is broken we’re easy to pick off one by one. Fear that we might have to take more time than a 30 second elevator speech to truly touch on the diversity of Paganism. Fear that the assumption of Wiccan commonality gets turned on its head and they have to start learning about other Pagan religions. Just a thought. ;)

        I’d like to briefly name my 5 chief spirits:

        You already are familiar with the Man in the Moon Light as I’ve described Him to you.
        The Wild Man in the Wind is His principle lover and consort. Together they are raising the Orphaned Wildflower Youth Who is a terrestrial spirit, His relationship to wildflowers is akin to the Ents of LOTR relationship to trees. The Woman in the Sunlight is the Mother of the Man in the Moon Light and the Old man in the Night Sky is Her Father, He watches over Her while She sleeps as She watches over Her Son during the day. Together They comprise the guiding council of my spirits Who all seem to be interrelated through pacts and family relations.

        For my part I’ve always had to hammer out for myself who I was in regard to gender and sexuality despite never being pressured to do so (in the sense of pick one and done if you get my meaning). I’ve just always been intensely self-exploratory and sought out self-knowledge so as to gain perspective on how I fit into the order of the goings on around me. In my past I was a rent boy and nothing so prepares you for understanding the true diversity of men (or sexual tastes for that matter). I’ve dated men of trans history and while wouldn’t say that I knew they were men necessarily (Not in a passing/not passing sense, I would just never presume someone’s gender! Indeed I attempt to greet new people with gender neutral pronouns whenever possible, absent their name of course) I never had reason to question it either.

        Funnily enough I absent mindedly assumed that you just wanted to wear the other hat. The gender assumption just didn’t hit me until you pointed it out in your comment.

        Its funny you should say that you identify so very strongly as a Doctor. I feel the same way about being a Technician in a way. I come in, with my set of specialized knowledge tools, make my manual dexterity magic, and with a quick inspection from someone in the know I’m on my way. (I compound chemotherapy and radiopharmaceuticals as a pharmacy technician under direction of a pharmacist) Of course I probably most strongly identify as an Artist but that’s not been a very public identity for me for aforementioned reasons compounded (pun not intended, if detected) by shyness about my skill level.

        Thank you for the compliments re: my outlook on my gender. As if as an Irish-German lad I wasn’t ruddy enough now I’ve a blush too :D

        I know how you feel about people making things out to be how they want to see them. I find that irksome when I hear queer men say that two spirits are obviously gay men (as if gender presentation tells you anything about sexuality) and therefore gay men are somehow much more spiritual or somehow especially spiritual (it’s usually middle class white men who say it too). But I digress. :D

        Dave

        P.S. I look forward to meeting you as well Doctor. :D :D :D

      • I love your friendship ritual–that’s very much the intent behind the Communalia, i.e. to say that I honor the connections we’re able to make, and the diversity that we have, and (to use Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood language) that “You make each day a special day by just your being you,” etc. So, hopefully, that’s what people come away with on these occasions. I certainly don’t expect people in these various groups to start worshipping Antinous or any of the deities with which we deal, but I do hope that we all treat each other as allies and friends of each other’s respective tribes.

        I suspect there’s a large element of “big personalities” involved in the intrafaith discussion within paganism. The people involved are big and respected names, and when I suggested that something in this direction was occurring to one of them, he pretty much missed the message entirely, and thought I was asking him to sign off on it or be involved in the event on an organizational/directional level, which I wasn’t, I simply wanted him to know what was already going on. With the other such individual, he pretty much scoffed at the notion that intrafaith efforts would be needed at all within modern paganism, since it’s all pretty much just “variations on Wicca.” Unfortunately, both of them were wrong, and no matter what good and respectable work both have done previously and have been known for in this regard, it’s sad to me that they weren’t able to see beyond their own “ownership” of these issues (as if they actually can own something like this) into a recognition of the advances and activities of others.

        Thank you so much for introducing your five principal spirits to me. They make a beautiful grouping, and you’ve done great honor to them by mentioning them in this fashion! I look forward to knowing more about them in the future!

        You know, I suspect we have a ton to speak further about–the more you say about yourself, the more I’m interested in hearing, well, more! I haven’t met too many people who are what my sacred sex guru Joseph Kramer would call “sacred intimates,” but all of them have had the most interesting viewpoints on sex and gender, and have had some of the most healthy approaches to sex and physicality that I’ve yet encountered. It makes me have hope for myself in the future…if only I could get some $$$ together! ;)

        So, shall I call you Technician/Artist Dave, then? I’m happy to do so if you like! Thank you for sharing more of yourself, and I am eager to “partake” of more of yourself as you share in the coming days! (And I’m sorry I have to cut this somewhat short at present…alas, things elsewhere are drawing and even demanding my attention at present…but we shall resume soon, eh?)

      • Actually my nickname is Ace and that’s the name I most strongly personally identify with. I reserve that name for friends and that you are welcome to call me by it should tell you were you stand with me :D

        It’s something of an inside joke between me and the Man in the Moon Light but we’ll save that story for P-Con ’13 as it’s best told in person (you kinda have to be there).

        Not to worry about time constraints and other obligations. I fully understand being only one person with one heart who can be in only so many places at once

        Personally I’d much rather have a leisurely conversation over time than a rushed one immediately, but then I am given to blathering on or so I’ve been told. ;)

        I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend Doctor.

      • I look forward to hearing about why you are called “Ace,” then, Ace!

        (You’ve just reminded me of something. My stepfather had a picture that used to hang in my room as a child, that was of a smiling, dog-like humanoid in a WWI flying outfit, standing near a biplane, and the caption on it said “Have A Good Day, Ace!” And, really, that’s the end of the story…But anyway, you’ve reminded me of that, so thanks for doing so!)

        Leisurely is a very good thing indeed, so it shall be a long saunter, meander, and stroll with many stories along the way, eh?

        (Oh, a question: do you have any interest in the Esoteric Book Conference? I can’t recall if I asked you about this already, but it is in Seattle over a weekend in September, and this year, I’m presenting at it. If you’re free and interested and can make it, it would be awesome to meet you there; I think it might be the same weekend as BTW in Ohio, though…well, anyway, just a thought. If I have to wait until PantheaCon ’13 to meet you, I guess I can, <> but I’d rather not wait so long. What can I say?)

      • Unfortunately my duties do not permit travel for the rest of the year. In fact I had to reschedule my trip to Europe.

        Bummed out about it but it’s worth it, I just got a job at a children’s hospital making chemotherapy. As far as I’m concerned the privilege of being involved with their care far outweighs my disappointment at not being able to go.

        BTW is becoming an interesting proposition for me. As I mentioned to Mary elsewhere in this comment thread the idea of space exclusive to queer men only is becoming less and less appealing as time goes on. I can’t, in all honesty, however say that the idea of an Esoteric Book Conference is any more appealing particularly. I’m much more of a doer than a thinker (though I try my luck at the latter).

        I’ve usually found esoteric/occult types (as opposed to your more earthy Pagans who tend to be well, down to Earth!) to be entirely too full of themselves as well but that’s another story altogether. ;)

        I appreciate the invitation however, and I look forward to meeting you as well. I feel as though we have much to talk about. I have a tentative launch date of Samhain this year for my cooking show so at least then you’ll know what I look like eh? :D

        Ace

      • No worries, Ace–I totally understand, and if the EBC weren’t rather local to me, I wouldn’t be going either. Loads of cool folks from this area that are friends or acquaintances of mine also attend, and some don’t even go to the presentations, they just hang around the exhibits/vendors hall, which is also well worth going to (because it’s free!). Some of the presentations at the EBC are a bit “heady,” as it were, but a great many of them are not, or are less so than one might initially suspect. There is the esoteric/occultist syndrome of “My Holy Guardian Angel has a much bigger dick than yours” that does go on at the event, but luckily I’ve steered clear of people like that for the most part.

        As intriguing as BTW does sound, I really couldn’t ever go to it without feeling a deep and personal betrayal of my own innermost identity, and at the end of the day, preserving that integrity is more important to me than potentially making connections with people in such a context–if those connections with individuals or groups remain to be made outside of that context, lovely, but if not, oh well. Plus, some male-identified BTW attendees who are in the Ekklesía Antínoou can go and enjoy the heck out of it all they like, and represent our group to whatever extent they feel comfortable with and appropriate for themselves (and may do so without asking permission from me!).

        It’s awesome that you’re doing work that is so immediately beneficial to other humans–and, specifically, children–and you can see the results pretty immediately. (Higher education isn’t always that immediate in its benefits, to the population one serves, nor to oneself, but what can I say?–it’s what I love, and I hope that there will be a better living in it eventually.)

        But certainly, there will be other opportunities to meet, whether virtually or actually, in the meantime. I look forward to the cooking show! (October 30 is Foundation Day, which is pretty much THE big holiday Antinous-wise, so that’s close to Samain, too!)

      • I’d probably have time if not for the fact I’ll be taking medical leave for 2 additional surgeries I ended up needing to have. Nothing major but just going to knock everything out at once and be done with it. That and I’ll be going to Houston twice and Lafayette once for professional development stuff.

        Lucky I have an understanding employer eh?

        I was actually considering going back for my associates/bachelors in nuclear medicine technology however in light of today’s revelation I might wait. My brother told me today that his girlfriend is graduating college and applied for an internship in Portland, OR. Both of them have always wanted to go there and I have as well. They’re not ready to move in together so the thought was I could request a transfer up there and be roommates with him (let him stay for free til he finds a job, lucky kid). So long-ish story short we might end up being “neighbors” soon you and I.

        BTW is definitely an interesting proposition. As I rather sheepishly admitted to Mary I was truthfully more drawn to the event for the sake of “I’m around other guys who are both Pagan and queer and maybe….” I think you can guess where I’m going with that. I mean looking at it realistically it’s more of a novelty than anything you could have expectations about but you never know I suppose? (Hope springs eternal eh?)

        I’ve never actually met a queer Pagan guy in meatspace. I don’t think that it’d be a necessary attribute but it helps not having to make justifications for why you’re not evil or insane. A lot of the guys I’ve been involved with have either been rabidly anti-religious or had tons of conservative Christian baggage about their sexuality. Not that being Pagan automatically means “I’m this perfect baggage free, totally in tune with myself sexually, and completely understanding of your religion” person. But it helps being in the same ballpark if not on the same page more so than not.

        I can definitely relate to being stubborn about doing what you love and figuring out the rest later. Sometimes you “gotta do what you love, even if it ain’t a good idea”.

        My work is really important to me. In addition to making chemotherapy I also make radiopharmaceuticals used in nuclear myocardial perfusion imaging (think stress test, ala running on a treadmill). I’m actually childfree but I don’t hate or dislike children (nor do most childfree people). I do volunteer work too helping facilitate art and equine therapy for kids with neuromotor disorders (mostly cerebral palsy kids). It’s good work, I keep their art on my fridge and it gets me through tough days. :)

        I also do work with animals as well, volunteering at the humane society & help with rehabilitation for animals that have been abused. Also good work but I’m no more a pet person than I am a future father.

        I guess you could say I’m something of a patron of children and animals (in the same spirit as my Spirits, and They approve highly of those activities) despite my domestic life being, pleasantly, bereft of either.

        Ace

      • TO be honest, Ace, as I read more and more of your commentary here, I keep thinking to myself–and out loud!–“Crikey, could this person be any more perfect?!?”

        Okay, just had to say it. I have no idea if I’m at all your type or anything–nor do I have to be in order to continue our very lovely and pleasant conversation!–but I’m just amazed at everything you’ve written thus far. Thank you for carrying on this conversation at such great lengths with me, and sharing so much of yourself and your spirits along the way! :)

        I can certainly say for myself that “hope hath sprung eternal also” for me in terms of things like PantheaCon (and Bi-Con, and various other con’s I’ve been to), not only for finding community amongst other pagans and other queer folks, but also for the hopes of finding a significant other–who will probably be a queer male of some description at this stage. (Though, being poly-minded, that may not be “all,” as it were…and if I were lucky enough to meet more than one, hey!)

        My last long-term boyfriend was a recovering Mormon, who said he was interested in paganism, and collected tarot cards, and had interest in mythology, etc.; but then he thought it basically all came down to “belief,” and couldn’t be conversed with on any of it–he said “I just don’t believe what you do,” when in fact he never asked what I believed, nor did I ever explain it to or discuss it with him. (That wasn’t the worst of the relationship misunderstandings between us, but it was one of them, alas…)

        I’ve met loads of lovely folks at PantheaCon, and after the first year picked up a female quasi-stalker for a while (!?!), but nothing has ever really worked out in terms of long-term partnership material there. I’m also totally not built for one-night stands or short flings; those who are do really well in con’ environments, and I wish them every good thing in doing so, but I’m unfortunately not such a person. It’s yet another area in which the gender atypicalities I have tend to cause some difficulty.

        The one excellent sexual experience I’ve had thus far in my life happened to be a threesome (while at London Bi-Con in ’03) where one of the other participants fully accepted and understood my gender identity, and responded accordingly and appropriately in a sexual setting, rather than trying to fit me into a particular mold of one gender or another…and it was great. (The other participant was somewhat just along for the ride, to an extent, but he also had a lot of fun, and didn’t seem to be too concerned in one way or another about gender stuff, so that was also nice!) Much more could be said on all of that, but I’ll leave it there for the moment.

        So, certainly, if you end up in Portland sooner rather than later, I know a lot of cool pagan folks down there to whom I can provide introductions (including Ekklesía Antínoou folks!), and I have an aunt and a cousin down there. Train and bus trips aren’t that expensive to there, luckily, so who knows? It would be great to meet, chat at great length in person, and enjoy a chai or seventeen in the process, most certainly! ;)

      • I’m not perfect, just forgiven…er, wait wrong religion! ;) Seriously though this is the part of the program were I dumbly look at my shoes and exclaim, “well shucks!”.

        I dunno if I’ve been entirely clear on this point previously but my sexuality is probably best described as “omnisexual”. I prefer omni to pan because of my on going sexual relationships with several of my Spirits and omni strikes me as more inclusive of what I like to call “non-human beings of personhood-level consciousness” than pansexual seems to be. I’m also rather more polyamorously inclined than not. If you’ve ever seen Torchwood think Captain Jack and that’s basically my sexuality.

        As for being my type, that remains to be seen (“my type” as it were is based on getting to know someone to determine if they’re a kindred spirit, a term I use like most people use the term soulmate) but at this point it would be best to let the thing take it’s course eh? I will say I’m looking most for someone(s?) I can be myself with. :D

        If nothing else I have already come to value our friendship and conversation :D :D :D

        When it comes to relationships and such things I’m very much LAT (live apart together, that is to say being in an LTR and not living together) oriented and I believe that is what has ultimately spelled doom for me along those lines. Most folks seem hell bent on “first date, then live together, then marry, then babies, then buy a house together” etc. Aside from dating (although I have non-typical ideas about romance so in some ways that too) I don’t want any of those other things. I don’t want to live with my lover(s), have children regardless of having a lover(s), be married to anybody, or own a house (with anybody or just by myself either).

        So that’s kind of a monkey in most folks potato salad…

        When it comes to sex, as a former rent boy, I’ve pretty much “been there, done that” when it comes to just about anything you can imagine although I’ve been told my own personal tastes are “distressingly vanilla”. For me I derive quite a lot of sexual satisfaction from erotic encounters that are gentle and sensual. Of course I’m a very gentle and sensual person in general so it only makes sense I suppose.

        I’m also rather affectionate both with friends and lovers. Several of my relationships with straight guy friends are what might be called “romantic friendships” (bromance is a little crude if you ask me although not inaccurate in some ways). We cuddle, hold hands, hug, walk arm in arm, kiss on the lips, shower together, and sleep together (non-sexually). It’s very enjoyable to be able to be close to and intimate with people I care for and I’ve had several of these guys lament not being able to have similar relationships with other (straight) guys in general. I have something of a “It’s Ace you can be yourself with him and be close with him” effect on friends though.

        So that’s were I stand on all those issues. :D

        As for moving up to the Pacific Northwest or not Portland is my likely goal however if I end up in Portland before I go back to school I may end up in Seattle as they have a nuclear medicine technology program at Bellevue College which is enticing. I’d probably spend however much time in Portland that my brother needs to establish himself and be ready to move in with his girlfriend and move to Seattle then.

        If they end up staying in Phoenix I likely will as well and finish my associates/bachelors down here. I do know however that the Pacific NW will still be on my radar and my Spirits seem to wish for me to stay stateside for a number of years. They’re actually hoping that I’ll network with Pagans to see if They can’t expand Their number of human allies, much easier to do so stateside than in NZ. Ultimately however returning to NZ is my long-term goal.

        In the meantime whatever opportunities present themselves, as far as meeting you and hanging out in meatspace, I’d be more than happy to take advantage of.

        Ace

      • Continue to look at your shoes and says “shucks,” Ace…!?! ;)

        I was just thinking earlier today that Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” project is a load of bunk for all sorts of reasons (about which I’ve written on here before), one of the main ones being that “it” doesn’t always “get better” for everyone, or in every situation. However, “it gets better” as a concept certainly applies in the “getting to know you” process I’m encountering with you–I mean, seriously, in your latest reply, you have me contemplating teleportation spells, dear friend! :P

        I like your concept of omnisexual–I may have to modify my own language on that personally. (Plus, “pansexual” is one of those terms that is a hybrid Greek-Latin thing that many people rail against…not me, of course, but anyway…) I’m not someone who expects to have a family and such (other than of very close friends, some of whom might be in some way “adopted” younger siblings or even adult/over-18 children, in some sense), and I know I’m very hard to live with, so even if I was living with a significant other, there’d have to be separate bedrooms at very least, just so having some space would be a feature of the relationship, and it being okay to retreat to one’s corner (though that sounds bad when it isn’t always necessarily) when one needs to, etc.

        Sex: yes, sensuality above all else is sort of my ideal. Not that concerned about penetration, nor that concerned about ejaculation, or even that determined to have an orgasm (and I do have to remind folks, all too often, that the latter two are not the same!), but there can be a profound level of connection and sharing that can take place simply by two bodies in close proximity to each other. That’s what I love.

        I’ve always wanted to be very physically affectionate with my partners, but most of them haven’t really liked that, and have been squicked by too much touch, which is tragic. I don’t do it much with many of my friends either, and I think many of them would find it weird if I started now; but, new people is another area entirely. It’s a real gift that you’ve been able to have others feel so comfortable in your presence–most people I know have not done that with me, so imagining what it would look like (as it were) for someone to have that effect is intriguing, to say the least.

        Certainly, as you’ve described more of your own line of work, it does sound to me (based on my incomplete understanding) that there would be many opportunities in the Seattle area for you. My mother went through chemo for lymphoma at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance last year (very successfully, I might add!), so I’ve seen that end of it. I’m not unacquainted with the wider medical establishment for various others reasons as well, which I can elaborate on if you’re interested, or if you’ve not seen me discuss it elsewhere.

        I also suspect, given the nature of religion and spirituality in the greater Seattle (and Northwest/Cascadia) region, that you’d find quite fertile ground for your spirit allies to have a greater audience and exposure here, if that is what you’d be looking for.

        But, as I think you can tell (warning–impending “aw shucks” moment ahead again!), I’m a rather biased observer in this regard where you’re concerned, so you should probably pay no attention to my STRONG WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT, since they are in the “Greek middle voice,” i.e. things done personally or selfishly. But, at least I admit it, eh? ;)

      • A lot of what Savage says, full disclosure: I’m a fan of his to a degree, smacks of privilege. Kind of a long the lines of: “I’m an upper middle (if not upper) class white gay cisman and lemme speak to everyone’s experience from my experience.” I think the It Gets Better Project is well intentioned but about as nuanced as a bumper sticker slogan can be.

        For my part my needing to live apart from my lovers (or in most cases anyone else, helping my brother being an exceptional and temporary circumstance) doesn’t come down to trust issues or people being difficult to live with. It’s just what I need for myself. While I enjoy intimacy I also need some aspects of myself to be held in privacy. Domestic life as usually envisioned just isn’t a realistic possibility for me psychologically speaking.

        I found it interesting that you’ve found people often don’t know the difference between ejaculation and orgasm. I would have though that common knowledge.

        I’m glad to hear that your mothers treatment was successful. :D

        Chemotherapy is a powerful thing. Are you familiar with the tradition in certain shamanic circles of speaking directly with the Spirit of the plant in question? I do something similar with chemotherapy and radiopharmaceuticals my logic being (based in my animism) that if everything has a spiritual equivalent that governs/represents its place within the overall cosmic order why not medicine?

        FYI When you spill chemo when compounding it you use a one use dust pan (among other procedures and equipment) to clean it up. Chemotherapy is in fact so toxic that they’d rather throw away whatever is used to clean up a spill (into a hazardous waste bin and outside the building no less) than risk making folks ill.

        Little fun fact that makes it all the more impressive (to me anyway) it can actually be used to help people become well (although that toxicity is kind of the point). I believe you’re quite right however on both counts re: Seattle having work & religious opportunities for me. I enjoy the songs I hear from the City Spirits whenever I go there. “The machines are singing and everything is beautiful” as I like to say.

        I will keep you in the know about where I end up (should know about moving to Portland within 3-6 months) and I already know I will be stateside for 3 years min. Ideally everything will go well with Spirit introductions at P-Con ’13 followed up by a public gallery audience (and a private trance audience for a small group thereafter). I’m quite keen on returning home (NZ) asap however as it pains me to be away. I will still make it my habit to return to the U.S. for future P-Cons for the foreseeable future.

        So there’s all of that. Oh, by the way, I may not be very communicative for the next few months between a more than full-time work schedule, my personal projects, and my surgeries. I will strive to keep my end of our conversation going at least a few times per week however, just be advised if I’m quiet from time to time its not personal.

        Ace

      • I can’t say I’m a “fan” of Dan Savage any longer (nor was I an avid one at any point), but I do think he’s often witty and perceptive. Unfortunately, he’s often not very witty nor perceptive (except in his own mind) where it comes to bisexuals or trans folks. I think the “It Gets Better” project is an extended exercise in adult privilege, and basically boils down to “We all had to deal with this crap when we were younger, so just wait until you’re older and everything will be great,” which ultimately isn’t that different than saying “Tough it out” to kids who are being bullied. I’ll have more to say about this soon in relation to one of our presentations at PantheaCon, but suffice it to say: yes, privilege; but, that doesn’t mean he’s not still amusing on certain topics from time to time.

        I do understand what you’re saying about a need for privacy. I’m a well-adjusted introvert, but I am still an introvert, and thus need some alone-time; this is one of the reasons that this last PantheaCon went so exceptionally well for me, because I ended up by myself in the hotel room for dinner (and sometimes lunch) on most days, which was not only cheaper, but also allowed me to really digest some of the things that were going on. I certainly enjoy interactions with other people, but I also do enjoy time apart. I have a difficult time doing most things that I enjoy doing–reading and writing, for example–when there are other people in the room, for example. As you are aware of how much I write, you know how important that sort of time is to me, therefore! ;)

        Re: the difference between orgasm and ejaculation–what can I say? I’ve dealt with neanderthal boys mostly, I suppose. (And neanderthal girls as well, I suppose, too.) Certain sections of the general population, including sex-workers and sacred sex-informed folks, of course take this notion as de rigeur, but unfortunately the general queer population, and even some of the sex-positive folks I know, have not seemed to have received the memo. Oh well…

        What you’ve mentioned about shamanic work and creating chemotherapy makes total sense to me. It reminds me, to some extent, of presentations I’ve heard at the EBC on alchemy by actual lab alchemists, who don’t take the whole thing as “just metaphor for spiritual processes.” And, some of them are doing really interesting work that has potential and actual/attested health benefits. So, I’m totally on board with that, and I’m glad you’ve been able to find an activity in which you can help on so many different levels–that’s awesome, and creative, and totally admirable. I was horrified to know some of the things about chemo last year as my mom was going through it–that one of the drugs, for example, can just cause instant death as soon as you have it the first time. Luckily, that didn’t happen; but some of the other ones practically required a haz-met team just to handle them. Scary…

        No worries on future delays–I totally understand, as I’m finding that time is getting very difficult and short at present as well, and I don’t have half the commitments you do in terms of work, volunteering, and so forth. If I hear from you two or three times a week, that’s wonderful (and far better than I’ve had from many important people in my life, including significant others!), and I’ll be all the more grateful for whatever time you are able to devote to further communication!

        And meanwhile, yes, I look forward to hearing how your progress goes on various fronts, and to certainly seeing you at PantheaCon ’13! ;)

      • In my mind I was referring to his broader work than just that project. He often seems to think that he has in depth knowledge of all queer issues by virtue of being queer. He doesn’t. Bisexual erasure and transphobia are par for the course for his generation of gay rights activists. Not unlike the transphobia of (many) 2nd wave feminists. I think it stems from “these people are a threat to me getting my place.” I hadn’t thought about the IGBP from the perspective of adult privilege however.

        That’s interesting. Needless to say I’m not a big fan of his but he’s done good things too. Again not unlike certain 2nd wave feminists we could mention. ;)

        Of course I say these things as a guy with no first hand knowledge of what they went through both because of time and circumstances (I’m too young, and in my own way too privileged (I never had to be in/come out for a reason)). Still as a poly(amorous)omni(sexual) queer man who is social justice/human rights minded (and acting upon those thoughts!), and on a personal level doesn’t get what the big deal is about sexuality/gender diversity, I try to understand these issues as best I can.

        For me, and this is going to sound ironic for a couple of reasons which don’t escape me, I am agoraphobic AND highly extroverted. My agoraphobia has to do with spaces more so than people (I could never sky dive but not because of heights). One of my favored coping mechanisms is to put my back to a wall (mob boss style eh? ;) mostly kidding) but that only carries me so far before my inner claustrophile needs, well, a smaller space to inhabit. So that’s where most of that comes from.

        It will be interesting to see the directions my spiritual work takes after introducing my Spirits to the broader Pagan community. Tomorrow is the birthday of the Orphaned Wildflower Youth (Who is “perpetually” young due to only having a birthday once every 4 years) and a very important day on my calendar. (And a great party!!)

        I’ve actually been experimenting with flower wines (wines made from edible flowers) as an extension of my winemaking hobby which started out with fruit wines. My Spirits all immensely enjoy receiving flowers, fruit, and wine in various forms so I thought “why not put them together?” which of course was a big hit with Them. I also knicked the idea of water communion and flower communion from the UU’s and made a flower wine communion ritual which is to be a rite of dedication for those seeking to make a pact with my Spirits as worshipers. The idea also takes some inspiration from Frank Herbert’s Dune as my Spirits are somewhat reminiscent of the Fremen in the way They govern Themselves and how they approach making alliances (They are desert creatures as it were, at least in these incarnations).

        Thus the flower wines represent the Blood of the Spirits, the Waters of Their Life, their mixing is the joining of the Waters of two Tribes as one, and a union between the three worlds of land-water-sky, as well as the Holy Burning Waters (after the wines are mixed into a big jug a portion is poured unto the ground, and the rest ignited). The Holy Burning Waters Themselves are the Center of All the Worlds. Where the libations are poured becomes The Holy Ground. Best done outdoors coincidentally.

        Incidentally my Spirits have elected to name Their Tribe in light of the possibility of making new pacts with humans and humans being very fond of naming things:

        They are the Moonflower People. May Their Light Ignite the Sky in Wisdom! May Their Beauty overtake the Earth in Boundless Color! All blessings to the Tribe!

        And may the Spirits on the Wind be at your back my friend. We’ll talk soon. :D

        Ace

      • Once again, thanks for popping up in EA. I shall continue to call you “Ace” here, but I will call/have called you Dave over there, if you don’t mind, because I don’t want people to automatically “follow my example” over there (which they occasionally do whether I like it or not) when they have not been given leave to do so by you. I hope that makes sense…?!? ;)

        Indeed, I think you’re entirely correct on Mr. Savage. I suspect that anything which “muddies the waters” can be seen as a threat to certain types of monosexual and/or cisgendered queer people (gender irrespective). I once had a long talk with one of my very best gay friends/elder advisors on why the idea that “everyone is bisexual” (which I don’t personally think is viable, but anyway) is such a threatening thing to consider from a monosexual queer perspective. So, yes, for all the good that he does, and as hilarious as he’s usually been on The Colbert Report, Dan Savage isn’t the perfect poster child for anything, really, other than himself and his own brand, I suppose. :/

        I can understand what you’re saying about being both extroverted and agoraphobic. Because I was such a total introvert for most of my youth (0-18, really), I didn’t really get a chance to socially flourish until I was in college, and even then, it took a while for it to take hold. And, arguable, it still hasn’t/didn’t in the U.S. But, when I got to England for my junior year abroad, I had to either get extroverted or resign myself to never speaking with anyone other than tutors and other Americans in my program. The Irish also found me pleasantly extroverted while I lived there for five years, which I was happy about–they were pleasantly amused that I was American but not loud, stupid, or inappropriate, and also got their sense of humor. (Tooting my own horn a bit there, perhaps, but hey, who else will toot it?) But when I’m in the U.S., I tend to go into “default mode” rather easily, and am shy in most settings. In a classroom or a workshop, it’s a different story altogether; but in a general social situation–a party, a bar, a social–I tend to have a very difficult time just going up to talk with people, even when I feel I have a “useful pretext” to be doing so. At PantheaCon, I have tended to not go to the hospitality suite socials and parties for the last few years; when I was at one to specifically promote for an upcoming event this year, I was just as ill-at-ease as I have ever been in other less-fraught situations. Some habits do die hard, alas…This isn’t anything like being agoraphobic, of course, but anyway, the kind of “all in/totally aloof” duality is one that isn’t foreign to my own experience.

        I love the way you’ve set up your cosmology with the Moonflower People, and the specific birthdate of Orphaned Wildflower Youth being this rare day that will occur tomorrow. (Perhaps this has been an opportune time to introduce them to a slightly wider audience, then?) I really think the Moonflower People will get along quite well with Antinous and his associates–moon, flower, and a few other things are very big aspects of Antinous’ mythos. The flower wines and the rituals you’re doing with them also sound beautiful and wonderful…It’s always especially good to have that level of involvement in the things you offer, i.e. making them from scratch yourself. Also, with your “land-water-sky” and the “Holy Burning Waters,” I’m not only reminded of some things from way back in my own pagan practices, but also with a great deal of traditional Celtic, and specifically Irish, cosmological ideas. “Fire-in-water” is an extremely important concept therein for poetic inspiration, as well as kingship and warrior activities…really, almost anything “worth writing about” in medieval literature is intricately and inextricably tied up with those concepts. That concept has certainly influenced my own work with Antinous as well.

        If I may be so bold to suggest this, I’m seeing (from what little I know) a good bit of crossover between the Orphaned Wildflower Youth and yourself, in certain respects–as a kind of “wayward wanderer” (in the most positive senses of the terms!) within modern paganism/polytheism, who has not had a spiritual home previously, there must be a certain sense of being “orphaned” to your own experiences; however, you bring this new, innovative, and boldly colorful energy and enthusiasm, as well as deep and earnest devotion, to what you’re doing, that I cannot help but think will be infectious and positively encouraging to many of us. Like wildfire, and like wildflowers, what you are doing with the Moonflower People will catch on and spread with great joyousness, warmth, and vitality, and I think it is beginning already! :)

        All blessings of Antinous, Hadrian, Polydeukion, the Trophimoi, the Treískouroi, and all of their associates to you and to your tribe, dear friend! I look forward to speaking further here and elsewhere when you have a few moments! And, feel free to share any thoughts on the Orphaned Wildflower Youth you may have with the EA group tomorrow, as it would be entirely appropriate, and all that’s on our own calendar is the traditional Roman “bisextile year” celebrations–i.e. Regifugium done all over again…!?! ;)

  8. Please forgive the typos and length. I kind of got on a roll that got away from me there… :D

    • P.P.S. I almost typed bush instead of blush in my last comment. Talk about Freudian slip of the century.

      • Well, in deliberately going back to tell what you didn’t write but almost did, we’ve moved from the realms of “Freudian slip of the century” to “Hey baby, look what’s going on over here!” ;)

      • There are only a few times something online has made me literally lol and this is one of those times. :D

      • It pleases me to no end that I know I can bring people laughter that doesn’t involve a prat fall or an amusing costume! ;)

  9. [...] PantheaCon 2012: Transgender Inclusion/Exclusion [...]

  10. Probably you already knew this, but your Silver Rule appears to have been uttered by Rabbi Hillel in Babylonia in the first century BCE: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.”

    According to the story, Hillel said this to a pagan who knocked on his door, got Hillel out of his bath, and demanded to be taught the entire Torah while he (the pagan) stood on one foot. The Rabbi seems to have been very even tempered and good at summarizing things.

    • Indeed–and, while Christians are fond of pointing out that nearly every religion worldwide has some version of the “Golden Rule” in them (thus, they imply, their religion is just as valid as any, or perhaps even more so), almost all of them are in fact the “Silver Rule” instead, which is to say, “Don’t do unto others…” rather than just “Do unto others…” And this, I think, makes an awful lot more sense at the end of the day. I know I like a lot of things that many people don’t, and assuming that what I like is what others would like is very unwise, in my opinion…and, over the years has lead to all kinds of violence, all in the name of “doing good” for others. It’s much better, in my opinion, to assume that everyone hates being punched in the face than it is to assume everyone loves chocolate ice cream, no matter what some critics of the Silver Rule might say to the contrary.

  11. Yes! I am so glad that calmer, and more productive, conversations are taking place. I’ve been deeply dismayed by the ‘options’ presented as solutions – because they aren’t the only options. I’ve been saddened by the anger and the refusal to listen to one another. Most of the heat is because people aren’t even listening to each other, they are assuming and projecting.

    If we value pluralism, we have to show it. Even when it isn’t fun.

    • Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

      Indeed, this is not a comfortable pluralism for me, and as I said above, I never thought I’d be defending Z. (and, I should clarify, her person, not her position or ideas) in this situation. However, I think it is a necessary pluralism, and one that will need to be dealt with in some manner like this even if it isn’t named as such. I do hope that various parties will take the possibility of doing Communalia with us very seriously, as I am very very serious indeed about doing so.

      Also, I missed your presence at PantheaCon this year, and I wasn’t the only one who did! (And I remarked on your absence specifically with a few people…) I know there are very good reasons for not attending (and I wouldn’t have been able to go were it not for the kindness of my community), and I hope you have been and still are very well indeed in the meantime!

  12. I was so looking forward to your thoughts on the matter and am heartened to read them! I was especially interested as your work with Ekklesía Antínoou I think makes your perspective a bit more, I don’t want to say interesting. Maybe balanced?

    Either way thank you, as someone who admittedly has been struggling with understanding all of this.

    • Thank you for reading and commenting!

      As I’ve said on a few of the other comments here, I am very much against the language and the attitudes that Z. exhibited on this occasion (and others). However, I’m also a pluralist, and I don’t know what purpose it serves to dictate to anyone how they practice, or how they think and communicate. I’d certainly prefer people to do otherwise than purposefully offend others (and, at this stage, she has to know that’s what she’s doing), but at the same time, it is her right to do so.

      I think the much more important events at PantheaCon in terms of gender, transgender acceptance, and genuine communication were the ones I’ve talked about at length here, and I wish they would get more attention than this ongoing conflict, which is at the point of being “same shit, different year” from last year.

  13. [...] At this point I’m sure everyone has heard plenty about the Pantheacon controversy. Kenaz Filan has done some excellent posts about it, including these two about the lack of racial diversity at P*con and the politics of exclusion, and P. Sufenas Virius Lupus of the Ekklesía Antínoou talks here about other queer-inclusive events at Pantheacon and attempts to build bridges between traditions. [...]

  14. It’s no coincidence that Z Budapest’s rhetoric reads like a broadside from the feminist movement of the 1970’s. That is when her generation initially fulminated their life-long animosity toward transwomen, and that is why this is at root a dispute between generations.

    For those interested in the actual source of Z Budapest’s ritual beliefs, check out the decades-long controversy over the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. That is the culture she is attempting to insinuate into the Pagan world:

    http://www.fuah.org/MWMF_press-statement.html

  15. [...] in my first PantheaCon 2012 post, I covered the ever-contentious topic of transgender exclusion; and in my [...]

  16. Thank you, and I’m glad your voice was there in our discussion! (And yeah, we tend to mix things up a lot in really weird ways. But, we both think that it worked the way it needed to, you know?)

    • Thank you (yet again!) for doing such an excellent event/discussion/ritual, and for everything else!

      I love “syncretism-in-action,” and am totally in favor of it, as I’m sure you know! Those who don’t like it can lump it, I think.

      On the biggest Antinous-related holiday of our ritual year, which is October 30th (Foundation Day), it never seems complete if it isn’t an out-and-out “god-party” to which every deity is potentially invited…mostly people bring their own, and that’s always worked out very well.

      Looking forward to speaking further with you, and with Sarah as well!

  17. [...]  P. Sufenas Virius Lupus gives his unique perspective over on the Aedicula Antinoi blog.  I particularly like his idea of a Communalia ritual and I would love to have Sister Krissy Fiction be a part of it. [...]

  18. [...] two on events that I either attended or was a part of but did not myself organize–this one and this [...]

  19. [...] of course! Of course, the Tetrad have had a lot of play on this blog recently, including at PantheaCon 2012 and at PantheaCon [...]

  20. [...] a result of the matters that started with PantheaCon 2011, and which continued in various ways with PantheaCon 2012. But now, I think there should be no reservations on this matter whatsoever…although that [...]

  21. [...] the Circle of Dionysos that I had a small role in, three intriguing presentations I attended, and the issue of transgender inclusion/exclusion at this year’s con’. I’ve also already done a post looking ahead to next year and some ideas I’m kicking [...]

  22. [...] of you may recall, in the first of my substantial posts on PantheaCon 2012 this year, that I mentioned I was on a panel hosted by the Circle of Dionysos called “Queer [...]

  23. [...] his presence and the presence of his devotee on that occasion. (You can read more about that event here.) While having two more children and two grandchildren certainly wouldn’t make up for the [...]

  24. [...] Posts on my (non-presentational) doings at the event began with this one on thanks, followed by this one on gender/transgender matters, this one on inundations, and this one on nature’s poetic academy; and then posts on actual [...]

  25. [...] if you want to know more about those last two PantheaCons in that regard, you might read this and this). Because I so often say in my day-to-day life, as a history professor, that “those who do [...]

  26. […] do. I had considered a major “coming out” moment in my speech, perhaps even telling the longer story of the fez, but in the interests of time, I didn’t, I instead kept the speech very short; but, I also […]


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