Freya and the issue of Trans*

The TL; DR version: Freya could not care less what your biological body does or does not have, or how you do or do not present yourself to the world. She does not care. Do you love and accept yourself?  Are you being true to yourself? Yes? That’s all the matters. Welcome to working with a Goddess of Love, Beauty, and Self-Respect.

The long version:

I’m finally reading Erick duPree’s recent article on Patheos called “I Won’t Shame My Elders: Love is Still the Law”. In it, he describes his horror at seeing transphobia in one of the beloved elders in his tradition and his struggles to work through the issue. The article has been a fascinating read, at least for me, because he is coming from such a different tradition than I am. He has very different understandings and expectations of his tradition and his elders than I do from mine.

He talks a lot about matriarchy, and he is very good about not trying to step on the toes of the groups that he wants to defend (trans people; women; people of color); he realizes it’s not necessarily his place to do so, and he leaves it to a few female friends to take up the battle that he would love to be fighting. It’s all very cool to hear about because let me tell you, that’s not the kind of thing you hear in Heathen circles. Not that we don’t have strong women–we do (see below)–or that gender issues aren’t a problem (they are)–but that’s just not the kind of verbiage or dialogue that gets thrown around at a Heathen ritual. So it’s kind of nice to hear gender inequality issues take center stage every once in a while 🙂

Since I started focusing more on interfaith a few years ago, it became clear to me that Wicca has the Gender Issues and Heathenry has the Race Issues. That’s simplifying things, obviously, but I think that’s been pretty consistent over the years across groups. I never really understood why Wicca had gender issues–I mean, they are worshipping a Goddess, so patriarchy’s already been dumped on its head; why would whether someone is gay or bi or trans matter one way or the other? But clearly it’s still a hot issue in the Wiccan community.

As Erick says: “As a queer identifying man, it’s not complete without my transgender sisters and brothers. How can it be any other way, I consider myself Goddess. We are all Goddess! That is part of the ever expanding understanding of matriarchy. All are welcome, We All Come From The Goddess. People who don’t believe in that Modern Goddess cosmology, don’t have to play in my sandbox. That’s ok. That’s the beauty of Paganism.”

He says of his elder that she has “said that she doesn’t fully understand the transition process, but has always stood on the side of love. Love is the law. ”

You know what, Erick? I play in a completely different sandbox. I have completely different elders. But I’m right there with you.

“Love is the Law.” Yep. Welcome to life with my Goddess. That’s how She rolls, too.

________

Every once in a while someone will ask me why I don’t talk much about women’s issues, or gender inequality, or what have you, since I am dedicated to a Goddess and all. It always catches me off-guard; I have to stop and think, don’t I? What part of what I do isn’t about empowerment?

Heathenry–or at least, the vast majority of Heathenry that I’ve experienced–is full of strong goddesses, and even stronger women. To me, the “strong, independent” part is implied when I say that I am a proud Heathen woman.  (We even have Valkyries, for crying out loud. And female warriors. And higher gender equality overall than pretty much any other part of the world, back in the day.) While we do have sweet, loving, and kind Goddesses, I would never call any of them weak.

On top of that, I work for Freya. Freya is a Goddess of wealth, magic, fallen warriors, love, and beauty. She gets half of those slain in battle. (Some would argue that She chooses Her half before Odin does.) Either way, in this area She has equal standing with the king of the Aesir Gods. It may just be the 21st century woman in me, but to me, that all reads POWER. Powerno matter what era you’re living in, really. And everything I do in Her name is meant, in one way or another, to empower those around me.

She teaches us how to love ourselves, claim our personal power, and use it; and then She sends us out to help others love themselves and find their own power. That’s Her secret plan to undermine gender inequality. To me, that is feminism in action. And I’m proud to be a part of it.

(This is all not to say that Heathenry doesn’t have gender or sexuality issues; it does. We have a certain segment who think that this is a chest-poundingly manly warrior religion only for Brotru, or think that Me-Tarzan-You-Jane is the only way that humans fit together. Somehow they missed the powerful female figures embedded into our Lore, both the mythology and the sagas, or the multiple examples of cross-dressing or gender-swapping. But maybe that’s why there’s such a high percentage of Freyaspeople running around… someone has to relieve the Brotruar of this idiocy. As I see this more often in the newbie Heathens, I consider it as a useful part of their basic Heathen education.)

“After All”, by Dar Williams

Dar Williams is one of my favorite artists, starting  back when I first saw her perform my freshman year of college. She’s witty and vulnerable; a sensitive soul guided by beauty and hounded by depression. When I’m empty, I fight the same fight; but when I take care of myself, I remember that neither emotion nor beauty are my adversary; there doesn’t need to be a fight.

Go ahead push your luck
Find out how much love the world can hold
Once upon a time I had control and reined my soul in tight

Well the whole truth
Is like the story of a wave unfurled
But I held the evil of the world
So I stopped the tide
Froze it up from inside

Boundaries

Today in River Devora’s Polytheism class we were discussing communities: what types of spiritual or religious based groups there are; how they are structured; problems we’ve seen in our various polytheist communities; and groups and practices that worked really well. In the process, we discussed how hard it is for many pagan groups to practice defending boundaries: deciding who should be in a group, and when/how to kick somebody out of the group/community if that person was destroying the community. And it brought to mind the incident I had at the Facets of Freya ritual at PCon this year.

The Facets ritual was a communal project by Freyja’s Aett, a group I formed for this purpose. It an intense, high-energy, high-woo ritual that had five of us Freyaswomen trancing Her various facets simultaneously and doing a version of seidh for all of the participants. We had all worked on it for months, and I was very proud to be able to give this offering of love to and on behalf of my goddess.

And so it happened that on the night of the ritual, 11pm Sunday evening, near the end of the line for our ritual was Bathrobe Man. (If you’ve been to PCON, you may have seen him–he wears a short bathrobe–purple satin, iirc–with nothing under it, and wears it around Con all weekend. Every year.) I had remembered seeing him at the Dionysus ritual earlier that evening, which was designed to be a party as well as a devotional. And while our ritual was also designed to be powerful and ecstatic, it was not a free-flowing kind of party type of ritual where an enterprising guy might be able to “accidentally” loose his bathrobe belt and go leer at younger women. (Yeah. He had that energy.)

In any event, one of the Con staff assigned to our ritual went in an grabbed me when she saw him in line and asked me what I wanted to do. Technically, he shouldn’t have been allowed into any Con events as he wasn’t really dressed–but this is a large Pagan convention and, as we discussed in class, Pagans (many of whom have ourselves been the victims of discrimination and hated) generally have a hard time themselves excluding others from their events. The staff member was trying to help me avoid having to lay down a boundary and deal with the resultant confrontation right before my ritual, but Freya is nothing if not the Goddess of boundaries, so that was not going to happen. So I went over to him myself, pulled him out of the line, and told him that he wasn’t properly dressed for this ritual. His response?

“I can’t wear this, even this late at night? Really?”

And that pretty much did it. Some creepy dude with bad boundaries is not going to come into my ritual and disrespect my goddess and Her priestesses and the people who were there to seek some healing and a connection with Her. NOT ON MY WATCH.

So, despite the fact that I was set to channel Freya’s “Generous Giver/Self-Love” facet five minutes later, I gently but firmly kicked a guy out of our ritual.

And I felt bad about it for about five minutes. But then I let it go.

Dialing back

So, I’ve gone and completely overbooked myself again. Again, my own fault. No one is pressuring me to do most (if any) of it. I thought perhaps it was the Bay Area’s influence; but no, it’s happening here. It’ll likely happen wherever I go. The problem with moving is that you take yourself with you, you know.

So, now that I’ve met a bunch of people in the area and found some people with whom to do the things I’m most interested in, I’ll be dialing back again. My focus now will be finishing up/deepening ancestor work; continuing and upgrading my work with the Gods (including blogging); and starting to build Heathen community in my area. And relearning to trust other people while I’m at it, it seems. So, we’ll see how it goes :/

Any energy or blessings or good thoughts people want to send to help me achieve this balance will be appreciated 🙂

Heilsa!

Love notes from Freya, 6/7/15

Checked in with Freya this evening for a Love Note, as it has been a couple of days since my last one. Instead, I received a nice little energy reweaving, and this message:

Tell them:

There is no road I cannot walk. No path I cannot follow.
No heart I cannot find. No trouble I cannot endure.

(For I have endured much trauma and turmoil already; such has been my fate.)

Come to me in your disillusionment, your anger, and your shame.
Offer these to me, and I will take them away.

Call to me when you find yourself shattered on the floor
and blood and tears your only witnesses–
when your pride and heart and bones are broken
call to me, and I will come.

Call to me in your fear and your loneliness.
Or call to me in your hope and your joy.
Either way, I will come. I will always come.

To heal and to allow yourself to be healed is to love, you know.
If you can, allow yourself be loved by me.

My Hall is Many-Seated; there is always room for one more. 🙂

Love, Freya.

A promise or a warning?

“Come here,” She said, smiling, and enveloped me in Her arms. “You are too hard on yourself.”

I stood for a moment, basking in Her warmth and love.

“I feel like I keep cracking–tons of small cracking around the edges,” I told Her. “I’ll randomly start crying at commercials, or songs on the radio. I don’t know what to do.”

“You will keep cracking, ” She agreed, “like very thin ice on a river that freezes and melts, freezes and melts, freezes and melts without ever fully thawing, getting bumpier and more convoluted as time passes. But you don’t have to keep cracking. If you agree to let yourself melt fully, the ice won’t be able to take purchase and form again.

“It’s summertime. The time for ice has passed. You will need help from the Sun or a friend or a lover to  heat the surface, but you must do your part to help melt the ice from below. Then, your river of creativity, love, and joy can run freely again.”