Re/crafting Spirit: A zine for trans and queer Pagans Issue 1: Vernal Equinox, March 2011

Front image: The cover is an inked illustration with simple flat colors. On the left side is a dryad-like nature spirit, half-human, half-willow tree, of ambiguous gender, stretching with arms upraised as if just waking up from a long slumber. At their roots are remnant piles of snow. Behind them is an image of grains of barley, a crop harvested in springtime, and the sun shines in the upper left. The background color of the left side is a sky blue. On the right, the background color fades to a dark brown and the illustrated image is upside down. Depicted is Hel, the queen of the land of the dead in Norse mythology. She is clad in a simple widesleeved garment of dark grey with light blue trim, with two simple necklaces, one beaded, the other with a bird skull pendant. Half of Hel appears as a “normal” pale-skinned woman, while the other half is a rotting corpse -- half of her face is a skull, rotting flesh hanging off of it, and her hand on that side is nothing but bones; what flesh is left is grey-green. Her facial expression appears blank. She is holding a stag’s skull by the horns. Below her is an iconic pagan depiction of waxing crescent, full moon, and waning crescent. This cover is meant to symbolize that although it is now springtime in the Northern Hemisphere, this is balanced out by the fact that it is autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. For every day it grows warmer in the northern half of the world, it grows colder in the southern half. Life and death exist in a balance and a continuous cycle of waxing and waning.
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Table of Contents
p. 1: Introduction: On the Nature of Change and Why We Need Not Fear It (by Linden Tea) p. 8: Gender Essentialism and Cisnormativity in Pagan Symbolism (by Linden Tea) p. 14: Sacred Androgyny and Third-gender and Unintended Impact on Trans People (by Femme Guy) p. 19: Busted Pagan Intersex Ideas (by Luminis) p. 26: I am Ergi, You Will Fear Me (Pt. 1) (by earg-ea hellrúna) p. 32: Future Directions: Call for Submissions

Introduction
On the nature of change and why we need not fear it
When I was growing up, I hit a point where the religion I was raised with (Protestant Christianity) stopped “working” for me. I suppose this is a common tale among many who now follow Earth-based or Pre-Christian spiritual paths. I had actually started worshipping Nature and holding rituals before I even knew that neo-paganism or Wicca existed, or that there were other folks out there like me. When I did discover Wicca as a teen (after realizing I was queer but before fully realizing I was trans), I was excited. I bought as many books as I could afford to with my high school allowance money. But... But. Something always held me back. I had discovered a spiritual path that had almost clicked, yet there was still something missing, something not quite in place for me. After I had found Heathenism/ Ásatru, it clicked better. Here were gods that I felt I could relate to more easily, fallible beings that experienced human emotions and could be wounded and killed... But mostly I had been called by Loki. Especially as I had just started to get interested in activism and social justice, a trickster figure as an embodied force of Change appealed to me on a deep level. I held and practiced these spiritual beliefs for a few years, until I hit a point in my early twenties where I lost my faith in everything spiritual. Looking back on this time in my life (2006-ish?) I can see it was obviously a reactionary emotional backlash against certain Pagan people I had

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known who had a negative impact on my life. (I will not go into further detail here.) After spending a couple years healing emotionally and spiritually, I was finally able to articulate what it was about neo-paganism on the whole that turned me off and didn’t “click” for me (as opposed to the impact of individuals). First, it was the rampant cultural appropriation and exotification of indigenous/Native/Eastern religion and culture. Second (and the inspiration for this zine), it is the overpowering heterosexism and cisnormativity that is so present in many neo-pagan beliefs and practices. I felt there was no place for me, a queer and trans non-binary-gendered person. I saw sexist and gender essentialist stereotypes present in the form of Woman = Cis = Womb = Child-bearing = Nurturing = Receptive = Passive = Peaceful, versus Man = Cis = Phallus = Violent = Wild = Active. I saw the essential pairing of the Wiccan God and Goddess in a heterosexual, monogamous, cis, child-bearing union, and could not relate to it, myself being trans, and in an often-polyamorous queer relationship. In fact, one does not even need to be trans or queer or nonbinary or poly in order to feel alienated by this sort of essentialism. One could be cis and still feel alienated due to being infertile, child-free, queer, asexual, or non-conforming to the gendered stereotypes listed above. One could live in a poor urban setting, feeling alienated from the expectation of growing one’s own herbs in the back yard of the country

home that they own, as seems the norm according to most neo-pagan and Wiccan authors of popular books. The counter-argument I have heard most goes along the lines of, “Neo-paganism and Wicca started as hetero-focused fertility cults, so if that’s not your thing, GTFO and find another religion.” So, here I will pose the question: Just because a movement’s roots were structured in a certain (oppressive) way, does that mean it can not ever change? If major religions like Christianity, with a long and ongoing history of oppression, can be molded to be queer- and trans-inclusive and can be reclaimed and used as a focus for anti-oppression work (see Liberation Theology), why can’t neo-pagan religions do the same? Does being a Wiccan or neo-pagan imply interest in hetero/ciscentric fertility by default, or has it actually changed to what it is now more commonly perceived to be, a Nature-based, Earth-worshipping religion? For that matter, does worshipping the Earth mean one must assign human culturally gendered qualities? Haven’t we, as humans, projected enough of our own societies’ ideals onto a system that is, frankly, not something to which we can apply human values? I may still stand in spiritual awe of the Universe without attempting to anthropomorphize it. I may even believe in deities and spiritual beings without attempting to project human morals or values to Nature. As humans, we are part of Nature and we evolved from the Earth, and obviously we are not separate from this planet. Yet we need to take care not to allow our ego to exceed the reality that we are rather insignificant in the grand scheme of the Cosmos. Although I will not get into it in this first issue, in the future I plan on elaborating on ways to practice

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Nature worship without including gender at all. (And if anyone reading this would like to submit something along those lines, please do!) I know that I am not the first to question the standard hetero/ ciscentric version of neo-paganism. There are, in fact, a handful of queer Pagan groups dedicated to non-heteronormative spiritual practice, and some working in various areas of social justice and activism. I got the idea to make this zine after writing a couple blog posts about the alienation I felt as a trans pagan, and after getting several people who enthusiastically agreed with me, I started wishing there was more of an actual community presence of trans and queer pagans, especially those of us who seek the end of kyriarchy* and oppression, and who work toward meshing our spiritual and mundane lives together in greater harmony. I want us to be able to find each other more easily, as alienation and spiritual loneliness seems to be an all-too-common experience. I know we are not alone. I want readers to take inspiration from this. Knowing that there are others out there like us, I would hope that groups can form, that we can work together to re-craft our beliefs and practices, molding them

into something that works for us, rather than something we have to mold ourselves to fit, or something that explicitly tells us we do not belong. When I started to warm back up to the idea of neo-paganism, I had a revelatory moment where Loki pointedly reminded me that he claimed me years ago, and that he did not forget this even though I seemed to have done so myself. This was not something to be shrugged off. I had work to do, he reminded me. One is not claimed by Loki only to pursue a life of mundane conformity to the status quo. Perhaps I am so comfortable with change because I was claimed by Loki, a figure more often misunderstood and attributed with far more evil intent than he really represents. Change may often be unpleasant, but it is an unstoppable force of the Universe and it is often necessary. We must accept and welcome change when it is needed, even if it makes us challenge long-held beliefs. Yes, it hurts to realize we may have been “wrong” about something in the past, but which is worse, continuing to be “wrong” and refusing to change, or owning up to your actions and rectifying any harm they have caused? The trouble comes in when it comes to reconstructionist traditions. Reconstructionism is problematic as a practice, since obviously, no matter where one lives, modern-day society is vastly different from the pre-Christian era of past millennia. Even cultures that have retained so-called “primitive” ways of life (such as pastoralism, subsistence farming, or hunting and gathering) have been strongly affected by colonial and imperialist powers and the industrial economies

* Kyriarchy is a neologism coined by Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, as a modification of the term patriarchy which elaborates intersecting structures of domination. The word is derived from the Greek words κύριος (kyrios), "lord" or "master" and ἄρχω (archō), meaning amongst others "to lead, rule, govern" and defines a system of "ruling and oppression" in which many people may interact and act as oppressor or oppressed. The term was coined in But She Said: Feminist Practices of Biblical Interpretation, published in 1992. (From Wikipedia)
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of the latter cultures. No person lives in a time capsule, least of all the demographic that generally follows neo-pagan beliefs -- because, let’s face it, most of us are privileged in many ways and live in North America or Western Europe, with some in Australia and New Zealand. Add to the problem of modernity the fact that reconstructionist paths are often left with gaping holes of context and nuance; we just don’t know everything about ancient cultures, and what we do know was often recorded by Christian missionaries or monks who obviously did not like the pagans or heathens. The problem concerning change and tradition is this: at what point does something change so much that it loses all its original meaning and context? Is it possible to successfully follow a reconstruction of an ancient spirituality while “updating” it to be more inclusive of the realities of our lives? My hope is that this zine will serve as a jump-off point for further discussion and community building, and I look forward to making future issues and hashing out these issues even more. We do not all have to agree with each other on every point, but I hope that this collaborative effort will create at least some sense of shared experience and community among a demographic that is often splintered and isolated. This issue includes a handful of submitted essays, focusing on gender, mythology, and historical and modern pagan practice. I did not necessarily intend for the first issue to be solely about gender, but sometimes themes and patterns appear for a reason. Future issues will
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include content about ableism, classism, racism/cultural appropriation, and a variety of other anti-oppression topics, however the main purpose of this project is to focus on the experiences of queer and trans people who fall under the neo-pagan umbrella.

Hail and blessed be,
- Linden March 2011

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Gender Essentialism & Cisnormativity in Pagan Symbolism (by Linden Tea)

Explanation of image on p. 8: Vintage illustration of Ostara, the goddess of spring, by Johannes Gehrts (1884). She flies through the sky, clad in a loose, flowing dress, a peaceful or benevolent expression on her face, beams of sunlight surrounding her, accompanied by symbols of springtime and rebirth, including faery-winged cherubs, swallows and other small songbirds, a stork, and a rabbit or hare. In one hand she is holding a staff or wand topped by a bouquet of flowers, and trees in the bloom of spring blossoms frame the scene. At the bottom, on the ground, a group of (ancient, pre-Christian, agricultural, Germanic?) people look up in awe, and a group of children are dancing in a circle. In addition to referencing the pre-Christian northern European pagan source of many of the symbols associated with the modern Christian holiday of Easter (e.g. bunnies and birds/eggs), this image includes some of the “feminine” stereotypes I speak of in the introduction, including the association of womanhood with life-giving and nurturing. Ostara is a name used by modern Wiccans, Heathens and many other neo-pagans for the ritual/holiday that occurs on the spring equinox (if you are reading this zine you probably already know this). Doing a google image search for Ostara, most results contain the same themes and symbolism as this Victorian-era illustration: a young, conventionally attractive, white (presumably cis) woman, smiling serenely, often accompanied by rabbits, eggs, and spring blossoms. The theme of fertility and hetero sex between a cis man and a cis woman (or, at the very least, the theme of body parts and secondary sex characteristics associated with being cis) is ever-present in neo-pagan,

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and particularly Wiccan (or eclectic Wicca-based) symbolism and practices. Often seen in jewelry and altar statues, the “spiral Goddess” symbol (below right) portrays a semi-abstracted human figure with arms upraised. The hips are wide, the breasts and womb (represented by a spiral) emphasized any other body feature. The “triple Goddess” symbolism of Maiden, Mother, and Crone defines a woman (or the Goddess) by what point she is in her life’s reproductive cycle. Putting motherhood as the focal point on that trinity is also telling. While it is definitely empowering and important for many women to identify with their own fertility (especially often for women who have categorically been seen as those who “shouldn’t reproduce,” such as poor women, women with disabilities, and women of color) it is problematic to assume this as the default or ideal. Cis and hetero people do not own fertility, child-bearing, or childrearing. Let’s go beyond even the fact that there are likely many childfree, asexual, and/or infertile cis women who may want to take part in an Earth-based religion but feel alienated by the idealization of
*AMAB = Assigned Male at Birth AFAB = Assigned Female at Birth
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human fertility -- let’s consider that many trans women and non-binary AMAB* people have been turned away from taking part in Wiccan and neo-pagan groups because they were not cis. Let’s consider that many trans women go through deep depression and a sense of loss or mourning due to their inability to carry a child within their own bodies. Let’s consider that the essentialism that equates woman with uterus is often very upsetting and triggers body dysphoria for many trans men and non-binary AFAB people. Let’s also consider that some trans men and non-binary AFAB trans people have carried and given birth to children (Thomas Beattie was neither the first nor the only one to do so), and that some trans women and non-binary AMAB trans people have been the “sperm donor” of a child that was carried to term by someone else, and are now proud and loving mothers. This is, of course, not to imply that no cis woman should feel empowered by fertility and motherhood. In a world where men have so much institutional power and privilege over women, and where women’s bodies are medicalized, violated, and policed left and right, women (whether cis or trans) certainly need to be able to take back their own bodies and have room to reclaim what agency has been taken from them. But creating and reinforcing the essentialization of bodies and reproductive status has great power to oppress many people, especially those who experience intersecting oppressions such as race, class, ability, trans status, and sexual orientation or family structure. Other essentializing symbols frequently used by many neopagans include the chalice, cauldron, athame, and wand. The chalice and cauldron are typically “feminine” symbols, and are receptive, hollow forms. In contrast, the athame and wand are “masculine” phallic symbols. Both further reinforce cisnormativity via the idea that Woman = Vagina, Man = Penis. The athame and wand are “active” tools, contrasting with receptive “containers” that symbolize femaleness.
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Some folks (cis or trans) are okay with a justification of, “well, the symbolism isn’t meant to be taken literally, and we all have both male and female aspects of ourselves, so I don’t think it needs to be changed at all.” That obviously doesn’t work for many people, whether they are cis or trans, or their gender is one of the recognized binary genders, or whether they are genderqueer, agender, neutrois, or gender-fluid. Not everybody feels they have “both” male and female aspects within their sense of self. It’s absolutely fine if any individual feels that is accurate for theirself, but it’s not fine to say that makes gender essentialism and binarism okay on the whole. There is a delicate balance between something that is traditional, metaphorical, or not meant to be taken literally, and something that is alienating, essentializing, and even oppressive. It is also possible for an individual or a group to reclaim a concept, such as womanhood or motherhood, without either alienating, gatekeeping, or non-consensually including anybody in the definition of that concept. My personal response is to practice my spiritual beliefs with as few gender-related symbols or cues as possible. This works for me because the part of me that is neutrois (i.e. my gender is neuter, no matter my outward presentation or chosen pronouns) feels most comfortable with that. I can understand the historical context of spiritual focus on human fertility, because in the past (and in many places of the world right now) conceiving and bearing children was/is much more difficult than it is in the Global North (“First World”) now. Many of the reconstructed neo-pagan religions are believed to have originated in prehistory as fertility cults. For example, prehistoric Swedish rock art often depicts human figures with large, erect phalluses. A later, more well-known depiction, from two 8th-century picture stones in Gotland, of a figure assumed to be Odin riding his eight-legged horse
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Sleipnir (seen in the above image, a detail from the Tjängvide image stone), shows the All-father with what could either be an erection, or the hilt of his sword. It is possible it was meant to be both. But again, I ask the question: is it still possible to follow an ancient path, to change it enough to be relevant to modern-day life, without losing all of its original meaning and without engaging in “watering-down” or misappropriation? I believe this is absolutely possible. I believe we can practice our spiritualities without the need for gender essentialism, cissexism, and obsession with fertility and procreation.

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Sacred androgyny and third-gender and unintended impact on trans people
Femme Guy, femmeguy.wordpress.com I already knew it was going to be amazing to be in San Francisco over the Solstice season, and the prospect of an unchained Pagan bonfire on Ocean Beach after two days of Radical Faerie space was already exciting enough. Let alone one, as a commenter pointed out, held while Mercury is in retrograde and there’s a lunar eclipse. It’s a beautiful season of synchronicity in my life right now, and I’ve been taking advantage of it to think about the uses of gender and sacred androgyny in my Pagan practice, and a few issues arising from it.
Serving Sizes

the same is not true for me — I have to fight for my male identity to be problematized. (Let’s make clear that this is not the same thing as cis people who are preoccupied with their gender being called into question. No matter how worried a cis man is about being manly, nobody is ever going to refuse to call him “he” or by the right name if he doesn’t measure up, nor is there an entire social power structure dedicated to denying and dismissing his male gender. There is a huge difference between not being considered manly enough and not being considered male.) It’s not difficult to see how this comes into play in sacred androgyny work. Another friend, who has practised extensively with Reclaiming and was very involved in the community in the UK before he came to Canada, recounted an unhappy experience he had with a workshop on gender and spirituality led by the well-loved Reclaiming/ Radical Faerie leader Donald Engstrom. Participants were encouraged to describe their gender without using the words “male,” “female,” “masculine,” or “feminine.” (This workshop is described on page 141 of The Twelve Wild Swans by Starhawk and Hilary Valentine.) This sort of sacred androgyny/sacred third-gender work would be highly valuable for cis people and genderqueer people, and it’s easy to see why. We are scarcely ever encouraged in society to call our gender into question in this way, whether we do ourselves or not; normatively-gendered people have much to learn from this kind of work, and genderqueer people could find themselves finally centred and emphasized in spiritual practice. But it completely didn’t work for my friend. Why? Because he has his gender called into question every day anyway, and nonconsensually.
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I’ve found that, as in all things, it’s super important to consider my cissexual privilege in doing sacred androgyny work. Two different trans friends made more or less the same observation within a few days, in slightly different contexts, that encouraging people to think outside the gender binary plays way differently if you’re speaking to cis or genderqueer people than if you’re speaking to trans people (particularly transsexual people who identify clearly as men or as women). The boy I like mused that he has a lot of the same things in common with me that make me identify as genderqueer, but that’s not a word that would work for him. We are both guys, but for me when people call that identity into question, it makes me feel good — correctly gendered — whereas for him, naturally, it makes him feel ungendered. And moreover, in his case, ungendering him is hegemonic — there’s an entire overwhelming power structure dedicated to ungendering him and calling his gender as a man into question, where

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For the rest of the group, this work was transgressing social stricture. For him and the other trans person in the group, it reinforced that stricture. Moreover, once the workshop is complete, everyone else can simply reassert their binary gender, if they want, and expect that to be immediately respected by everyone just as a matter of course. But trans people can expect to have any assertion of androgyny or nonnormativity used against them. And not just socially: there’s a sordid history of gatekeeping medical professionals using any gender-atypical traits (feminine traits in trans men, masculine traits in trans women) — any at all, from interests to dress to “choosing a name that is too androgynous” — as an excuse to deny transition-related medical care. It’s important to recognize that trans people, as for so many issues, are in a double bind in this department. Some time ago on a forum I use, a trans man complained of someone using his knitting as an excuse to deny that he is a man. “And yet,” a trans woman sighed, “people keep calling me a man no matter how much I knit.” As a cissexual person, this is not a problem I have to face. Certainly, I can do many non-manly and un-manly things, and I might get harassed or attacked for them, but I am not likely to be faced with their being used as an excuse not to use my right name or pronouns or to deny me official documents or medically necessary health care. What this means is that the impact of any exploration of androgyny/third-gender/etc., including in sacred contexts, has a far different impact on trans people than it does on cis or genderqueer ones.

Moreover, third-gender approaches have a hard history for trans people. Far too often, tropes like “in between” or “man-woman” or “the best of both worlds” – although no doubt appealing to some other people as a way to think of themselves – are used both to objectify them and to deny the validity of their identities. Now let me reiterate: sacred androgyny or third-gender work is very good and valuable for lots of people, myself included. It has a long tradition in numerous cultures and in modern Neopagan practice, notably in Radical Faerie traditions, as sacred work that values queer and genderqueer people and offers them a special spiritual role. Today, cis people may find it a mind-expanding experience, and genderqueer people may find, finally, a ritual space that resonates with them. But like many things, it can impact others differently. Its impact on trans people must be taken into account in ritual design. It must never be imposed on people non-consensually (just like everything else gender-related, or religion-related for that matter). Queer, trans, and genderqueer people should never be used as walking avatars of sacred third-gender to enlighten the cis or straight people with, unless they freely choose that role. And it should never be assumed that a trans person is, for that reason, interested in sacred androgyny or third-gender. A trans person may well prefer to participate in male or female mysteries instead; or for that matter, may prefer to participate in third-gender mysteries not because he or she is trans, but because he or she is queer, or nonnormative with regard to the gender with which he or she identifies. Especially in the latter event, it will be crucial that ritual designers preparing for this kind of exploration do the work to make sure that it is truly a safe space, that how people identify will be respected, that any exploration of third-gender they choose to do will

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not be used to non-consensually ungender them afterwards, that trans and third-gender are not assimilated to each other (unless that is how the person understands themself). Sadly, in many times and places we’re still confronting out-andout exclusion of trans people from divine practice, as came to the fore following the incident at PantheaCon this winter and the ensuing intense discussion in the Pagan blogosphere. This makes it all the more important that as concerned Pagans who are in fact working for a better and more human understanding of the divine gift that is the richness of gender in the world, we must be highly vigilant and make very sure that when we do this work, we do not reinforce the same ungendering, disempowering, non-consensual structures we are, after all, fighting against. *Two highly useful books on sacred androgyny/third-gender are Hermaphrodeities by Raven Kaldera, which is written from a chiefly trans/genderqueer/intersex standpoint, and Queer Spirits by Will Roscoe (especially the first of its three sections), which is written from a chiefly cissexual queer men’s standpoint. As I’ve made clear, they should be treated as sources on third-gender work, not as generally applicable to all queer or trans people in general.

The author is a cissexual genderqueer gay boy in Montreal. He has practiced Paganism for thirteen years, currently eclectic Paganism influenced by Reclaiming and Radical Faerie tradition. This post was originally published at http://femmeguy.wordpress.com/2011/01/01/the-spirit-of-solstice-is-stillliving-here-part-i/ on January 1, 2011, was slightly amended for this publication, and represents the state of the author's belief as of March 13, 2011.

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Explanation of images on p. 11 and 12: On p. 19 is a photograph of a Greek or Roman statue of the mythical being Hermaphrodite (rhymes with Aphrodite), standing mostly nude, a loose cloth draped over one shoulder and across the thighs, one arm raised. The figure embodies the idealized image of what many (most?) non-intersex, cis people imagine “having both sets of parts” to be: an ambiguously feminine face, breasts, somewhat curvy hips (but not too curvy), and a penis and scrotum. On p. 20 is a relief of Hapi, the ancient Egyptian deity of the Nile, showing the figure with bared breasts, round belly, and wearing what looks to be the long false-beard style of goatee (called an Osird) associated with Pharaohs. Images edited and provided by Luminis. Original photographers unknown.

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Busted Pagan Intersex Ideas
Luminis, intersexroadshow.blogspot.com Lots of religions have worshipped intersex deities--like mighty Hermaphrodite, offspring of Hermes and Aphrodite, whose name gave the West its familiar term for people like me, or the Egyptian Hapi, god/ dess of the Nile, or some aspects of Shiva, or the pregnant trickster Loki. As an intersex person, I enjoy these interesting androgynous divine figures, who reflect the range of our human forms. But modern pagans often manage to bollux this up. I read all sorts of posts and stories that render intersex divine figures into dyadically-sexed beings. Sometimes divinities get their sex collapsed into a singular male or female. “Hermaphroditus,” I'm told authoritatively, is “the god of effeminate men.” Look—I love femboys and they need their gods, but being a feminine man doesn't make you grow breasts... Hermphrodite is an intersex deity, not an effeminate male god. Readings of intersex gods in this vein confuse physical sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. This is very common in our society, which forces sex assignment surgery on intersex babies, denies gender confirming treatment to trans people, polices gender conformity, and throws a constant party for heterosexuality. But I thought contemporary Westerners turned to paganism to escape the kyriarchy. Silly me. Another way modern pagans erase intersex divinities is to frame their intermediately-sexed bodily forms as symbolic. “The hermaphrodism of the God Hapi simply means that he can become incarnate either as a man or as a woman.” This explanation simultaneously presumes that there can be no “real” intersex being, enforces gender dyadism, and privileges the male in that dyad by using
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male pronouns. When pagans, who uphold old deities, treat intersexuality as a myth, it's depressing. Discussions of intersex gods that erase their intermediate status are tiring, but not all that common, because intersex god/desses are marginal to modern pagan practice. In fact, gender dyadism is the very center of Official Pagan Belief, as enshrined in the Wicca Portal on Wikipedia. “According to mainstream Wiccan theology, Wicca is a duotheistic religion worshipping a God and a Goddess, who are seen as complementary polarities,” says the front page. The heterosexual union of Goddess and God is at the center of everything (“The God and the Goddess are regarded as divine lovers, and the holiest ritual symbolism in Wicca is the Great Rite, which is a symbolic enactment of their union”), and everyone loves their phallic wands and vulvic cups. Those pagans who refuse this sex-dyadic framing are dissed as monotheistic: “Some witches have a monotheistic belief in the Goddess and God as two aspects of one androgynous or hermaphrodite personal deity... That is non-standard Wicca, however, since the idea of the God and Goddess as divine lovers is the core theology of Wicca.” Like medical practitioners who frame intersex bodies as a regressive return to a primitive bodily form, the Wicca Portal intones that those who view all deities as aspects of a pansexed or nonsexed Divine are regressive monotheists. Of course, pagans are a diverse lot, and there are plenty who roll their eyes at the enshrinement of heterosexuality as the center of pagan practice. Among the most organized critics are the Dianics, a womenonly group with many lesbian adherents. Putting the Goddess front and center, they are opponents of patriarchy, which I can but applaud. Unfortunately, like their secular separatist sister-movements born of second-wave feminism, they're big on transphobia. “Dianics support all people in finding their path to the Goddess. However, we do not
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recognize hormonally or surgically altered men (m-f transsexuals) as female, and therefore hormonally and surgically altered men and transgender men who self-define as women are excluded from participating in our tradition. Women's Mysteries cannot be understood nor experienced through chemical or surgical alterations to a male body.” Yay, essentialist bigotry enshrined as Holy Law. As an intersex person assigned female at birth who later transitioned to male status, this makes me feel ill enough, but what comes next in the Dianic exclusion policy makes me even less happy. “The only exception to this exclusion are those rare, true hermaphrodites who have been raised female in our culture.” OK, let's parse that, because it is squickworthy on so many levels. At least it is consistent in its transphobia by saying that people who identify as women aren't “really” women unless they were born with classic female genitals and gonads. But with matronizing generosity, a few will be let in, pitied because of their rare freakish forms, so long as they were raised as females. (Hey, I was raised as a woman. Will they let me in, with my beard and my “M” on my license?) But exactly who are singled out to be grudgingly allowed entrance? Only a very few. Not the 1-2% of all people Western doctors would label as having “disorders of sex development,” or the much more substantial pool of people whose bodies vary in some way or another from iconic dyadic forms, but “those rare, true hermaphrodites.” Like me. And I hate the terminology used with a passion. I was born with an ovotestis, which is a gonad that is intermediate between an ovary and a testis. The medical terminology for a person born with an ovotestis is "true hermaphrodite." The reason people with ovotestes were termed "true hermaphrodites" by doctors was explicitly to categorize all other intersex people as not “truly” intersexed. The vast majority of intersex people are medically termed “pseudohermaphrodites,” based on an fundamental (and, to my mind,
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fundamentally evil) impulse to erase our existence. The reason I'm termed a "true hermaphrodite" is because the arbitrary rule that doctors came up with when they developed the terms "true hermaphrodite," "male pseudohermaphrodite" and "female pseudohermphrodite" was that true sex was determined by gonads. A person with testes is "really" male, even if she has breasts, labia, clitoris, and vagina, even if she was raised female, wears dresses, identifies as a heterosexual female, and is married to a man. A person with ovaries is "really" female, even if he has a penis, scrotum, and just won the Mr. Olympus bodybuilding contest. Only people with one ovary and one testis, or intermediate gonads, ovotestes, are "really" intersex. This rule is arbitrary and says nothing about our lived experience. And it defines out of existence 99% of intersex people. I'm sure the Dianics view Western medicine's approach to “Women's Mysteries” with great disdain—the way pregnancy is medicalized, or menopause pathologized. But when it comes to spitting on intersex people, the Dianics are happy to jump in the same boat with doctors, and use their language of “true hermphrodites.” My intersex spouse, born with intermediate genitalia but surgically assigned male, has identified as female from early childhood. She is not classified as a “true hermpahrodite” and is someone the Dianics would deem a “transgender man who self-defines as a woman,” their bogeyman. Even though she gets a menstrual period, she's not welcome. I, on the other hand, living as a man and with no interest in joining, am technically qualified. What a load of second-wave feminist bollocks. My conclusion, I guess, is simple. I may look to the intersex world pantheon for inspiration, but to modern pagan practice, not so much. Of course, pagans are a large and motley bunch, and there are plenty of great queer individuals and tribes in the mix, but sex dyadism remains enshrined at the center of “mainstream” pagan practice, along with tedious transphobic and heterosexist dogma. I suppose I'll just have to keep hoping for spiritual transformation.
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I AM ERGI, YOU WILL FEAR ME: PT. ONE
An exploration of the sexuality of Old Norse culture
By earg-ea hellrúna If theres one thing Ive learned from the runes, its that the world is composed not of polarities, but of a great diversity of fierce elemental forces which are essentially genderless. The obvious lesson in this was lost on the Vikings and medieval Scandinavians however, as the concept of the “ergi” makes quite clear by historical accounts. Right around the time of Christianization, the records and laws of ancient Scandinavia talk in detail about the brutal practice of “Holmgang” the sanctioned killing of a man over an insult to another mans masculinity. "There are three words—should exchanges between people ever reach such dire limits—which all have full outlawry as the penalty; if a man calls another ragr, stroðinn or sorðinn. As they are to be prosecuted like other fullréttisorð and, what is more, a man has the right to kill in retaliation for these three words. He has the right to kill in retaliation on their account over the same period as he has the right to kill on account of women, in both cases up the next General Assembly. The man who utters these words falls with forfeit immunity at the hands of anyone who accompanies the man about whom they were uttered to the place of their encounter” (Meulengracht Sørenson 17). So what are these words about? What insult could be so deep and infuriating that Holmgang (a duel to the death) would be justified? The answers lie deep in the fascinating and largely forgotten world of Old Norse sexuality. Ragr, Ergi, and Argr, were not just terms of insult in the ancient Nordic world, they implied “unmanliness” or effeminacy. The fact that legalized killing was the immediate consequence of such an accusation begins to shed some light on just how homophobic the Vikings were.
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Now that’s not incredibly suprising, but if you look into another meaning of “ergi,” plus some parts of some sagas, it begins to get interesting.
“The practice of seiðr was considered ergi in the Viking Age, and in Icelandic

accounts and medieval Scandinavian laws, the term argr had connotations of the receptive passive role of an freeborn man within homosexual intercourse. These laws were made after the countries converted to Christianity. There are no written records of how the northern people thought of homosexuality before this conversion.” –from the Wikipedia article on “ergi” Seiðr was an ancient form of Germanic witchcraft which involved Galdr (the singing of runes and rune poems), the use of ethneogens (hallucinogenic plants), and a magickal tool known as the “distaff.” Seiðr was mostly practiced by women, and was overall deeply Goddess-centered, so any “male” whose wyrd (fate) it was to enter that mystery was labeled “ergi.” Considering that the trans spectrum is a naturally occurring part of the human spectrum of experience and genetics, there were bound to be trans people of some sort in ancient Europe. There are not enough records to say for sure, but its possible that what happened in Greece and Ancient Mesopotamia (ritual castration, transgendered Goddessworship) also happened in ancient Northern Europe. As above, so below, as with Gallea, so with Gala, so with Hijra, so with Ergi. But the real evidence, however small, is in the sagas. In one story, Loki, the Great Trickster god, not only transforms into a Giantess to keep Baldr from being resurrected, but he also “gives birth” to Odins Eight-legged horse, Sleipnr, in another story. In one saga, Odin “scolds” him for this, calling him “ergi”. Loki taunts back, reminding Odin that hes a practitioner of seiðr, and then proceeds to call him “ergi.” A very interesting fact often unnoticed by historians is that at
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this point Odin does not challenge Loki to “holmgang” or any such fool thing. They resolve it like perfect gentlemanly gods, as seemed to be the fashion before Christianization. There is also the comical but fascinating tale of how the frost giant Ymir stole Thors (perhaps the most butch of all the gods) hammer, mjollnir. The giant says he will only give mjollnir back if he may marry Freyja, the All-Mother. Naturally the gods are very upset, but Loki has an idea. He gets Thor to dress up as Freyja, wedding veil (to cover his big red beard), dress, and all. Loki then becomes “her” handmaiden. Ymir is easily fooled, and hands over the hammer, at which point Thor angrily throws off the dress and proceeds to raise hell (no pun intended). At no point does anyone in the saga dare call Thor, god of thunder, “unmanly.” As for the runes and how they relate to “ergi” and “seiðr” lets examine the symbolism of the story. Remember that ergi, is assosciated with seiðr, which is assosciated deeply with the runes. Its all connected. So Odin, Father of the gods, sees Ragnarok (apocalypse) coming, and is troubled. So he becomes Vegtam, the wanderer, and travels to Mimirs well. Mimir is a wise old giant who guards a magick well, in which lie the mysterious powers of the runes. Odin asks Mimir for a drink of the well. Mimir demands a sacrifice. Odin says that he will hang on a branch of the world tree for nine days, and on the ninth day he will pluck out an eye and let it fall into the well. Mimir accepts. Now the well is a deeply feminine and yonic symbol. It’s a sort of cornucopia of life, a symbol of the Goddess. And birthed from this well, Odin receives the runes, which —though they are masculine and feminine—are essentially genderless. For example, “TIR” is often seen as a male rune, but only because “bravery” is often seen as a male quality. And “BEORC” is often seen as a female rune, but only because “birth” is seen as something women do. These two runes rather represent the forces of the Dynamic and the Creative working in harmony, a concept in line with the Alchemical Androgyny or the Heiros Gamos, (divine marriage). Seiðr workers, likely
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practicing the same consciousness-raising techniques often discovered in many other shamanic traditions, must have stumbled upon this. Having stumbled upon this realization, I theorize that the Christian Vikings quickly labeled them “ergi” and gradually exiled, assimilated, or slaughtered them. I pray that their spirits will find peace.

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Explanation of images on p. 19 and 20: The illustration on p. 29 shows a scene depicting Loki in a

bridesmaid’s dress, dressing Thor up as Freyja in a bridal gown, complete with stuffed chest. Loki is fussing with the veil and standing on one leg; Thor is seated in a chair. All we can see of Thor’s face is his eyes, and he is glaring distrustfully at Loki, who wears a gleeful expression. Artists: Carl Larsson and Gunnar Forssell; illustration from Fredrik Sanders’s 1893 Swedish edition of the Poetic Edda. On p. 30 is another illustration from the same myth, showing Thor, an uneasy yet resigned expression on his face, being dressed in the bridal gown by two women (possibly his wife Sif along with Freyja herself, or possibly just two handmaids) while two cats (Freyja’s?) look on. Loki is in the background, peeking around a curtain, his hand over his face, looking like he is greatly enjoying himself while suppressing a giggle. Artist: Elmer Boyd Smith (1902).

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Future Directions & Call for Submissions
I am definitely planning on releasing future issues of this zine. When I first sent out my call for submissions, I got many responses from interested folks who wanted to send stuff my way. Not all of them were able to finish before I wanted to get this issue out, but of course I understand life gets hugely in the way sometimes. You can’t always plan for prolonged labor strikes or earthquakes. Submissions will be accepted at any time, with no set deadlines. Issues will be released quarterly, coinciding with solstices and equinoxes. So if your submission is themed for a particular sabbat, blót, ritual, holiday, or season, please keep in mind that ideally I’d like submissions for each issue to come to me at least a week before the estimated release date. For example, if an issue is set to be released around June 21st, and you have a solstice-themed piece you’d like to submit, please send it my way by the 14th.

could afford to)? Do you want to practice your beliefs without appropriating anyone else's cultural heritage? I know I'm not the only one.

I have seen a few groups and individuals who have modified their practices to be (cis) LGB inclusive. Who says we can't further evolve our spiritual beliefs and practices to reflect the true diversity of our experiences? This zine is focused on the experiences of trans and queer pagans (you don't have to be both queer and trans but it is geared primarily toward non-hetero, non-cis experiences), with an overall theme of fighting kyriarchy and working toward social justice. Submissions of either written or visual works that fit the theme are welcomed. While I can not offer any monetary compensation for published submissions, anyone whose work gets included will be entitled to request a free copy or two of the printed zine (trades are great too!), and if you want, I will also put a plug in the zine for other projects of yours. Please type all written submissions; submissions will be published in all the same font and size by default, so let me know if you actually have a preference regarding that. English is not required but it would help if it were translatable so moderation of content is easier. I will accept written submissions in the body of an email, links to blog posts, .doc (not .docx!!), .txt, or .rtf files, and pretty much any image format for visual art or photography. Please try to keep the resolution of images 300 dpi and up. It’s also okay to submit something that isn't totally new, such as a blog post you wrote last year, as long as it fits the theme. :)

Original call for submissions:
Are you some combination of trans, genderqueer, non-binary, and/or fall under any non-hetero orientation (queer, gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, etc.)? Are you also a pagan, heathen, witch, and/or occultist? Have you felt alienated by most practitioners of your spirituality because of cissexism and essentialism, either implied or overt? Do you want to follow a pre-christian or nature-worshipping spirituality without all the cisnormative/heteronormative fertilityobsessed trappings? Do you feel alienated from paganism because you can't relate to middle-class suburban or rural living, because you do not own your own home or have a yard to grow an herb garden (even if you
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A few suggestions for submissions (or, a list of things I would eventually like to write about in the zine if nobody else does first): • Personal experiences of implicit or explicit transphobia/ heteronormativity/racism/ableism/classism/general bustedness in pagan groups/covens Critique of cissexism in pagan/wiccan/heathen core beliefs and mythologies Sample rituals, spells, or other practical things, which have been created or modified to make it more focused on dismantling kyriarchy Discussion of privilege in relation to paganism (i.e. when a pagan writer assumes all the readers are middle-class or higher, own their own home with a yard, have disposable income, and I could go on and on...) Incorporating your spiritual beliefs in with your anti-oppression work How to de-gender spirituality (or merely de-emphasize, but not erase, gender) and deconstruct sexist and essentialist narratives without shaming people for whom fertility is personally important, but deconstructing and decentralizing the standard cis-hetero-monogamous narrative Even though there has been a lot written about cultural appropriation in neo-paganism, I would definitely like to include pieces about this Also the idea that neo-pagans/wiccans/etc. are the Most Oppressed Religion In The U.S., which is an especially absurd mindset given the events of this past decade (see also: asshat atheists with persecution complexes, like Dawkins, etc.)

• •

Ableist anti-science and anti-medicine bias among pagans, and how that relates to being a trans person accessing/reliant on medical transition (ALSO if anyone has one or more disabilities and how that also ties ableism with anti-science bias in very similar ways) "Oh we're not like THOSE people" attitudes among pagans/ witches/herbalists that have classist/racist/ageist overtones, for example: "REAL pagans would never use cannabis or psilocybe mushrooms" or "witches are never satanists!" Any privileges and intersections of oppressions that I have not specified in this call for submissions are also free for discussion, srsly

• •

Also please note that inclusion of submissions is at my discretion. If I feel a piece doesn't fit the theme, or includes oppressive content, I may ask you to change it or choose not to include it. This is not to say that I am going to be scrutinizing every piece as if I am the ultimate arbiter of What Is Progressive Enough. But please keep your own privileges in mind. For example, I will not include any use of language like "bio male", "tr***ies" applied as a general term, or busted generalizations about trans people as special magical third-gender beings (it would be a great idea to read through something like Not Your Mom's Trans 101  or similar before writing something, if you haven't already, and PLEASE remember to differentiate between your own personal experiences to avoid generalizing or projecting onto others), nor will I include anything that is appropriative of other cultures (i.e. if you are a white U.S.ian living on stolen land and benefitting from centuries of genocide and you are writing about your ~Native American shamanic path~ just, no). But don't let that stop you

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from submitting. I am very open to discussion if you have questions about the project.

PLEASE SEND SUBMISSIONS TO: beyond.the.fields.we.know@gmail.com
And please put something with "zine" in the subject line!

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