This is an ongoing blog entry. With strong personalities coming to the fore on the subject of gay spirituality in neopaganism I felt that I should spend some time commenting on them. People such as Christopher Penczak and Fiona Horne and many others besides. Not all of whom identify as LGBTQ it should be noted. While I enjoy their books sometimes the material and the resources can be lacking in terms of how as god or goddess was worship and how we can follow along in a modern setting.
Personally, I didn’t leave RCC for the sake of my sexuality (though I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a factor) I wanted to express myself in my spirituality and that is what Wicca and the Craft offered to me. During my studies at the start I never really questioned why in an Earth-based-spirituality fertility was so important, to the ancients it was part of the living spirit of their tradition as nature under went it’s cycles. As I grew comfortable in my Path as a gay man and a witch I began to wonder see parabels between the two such as persecution and celebration of life and the material, though in Wicca the material contains elements of the spiritual as well and that is the focus encouraged.
Eventually, I started to realise that Wicca in its traditional guise held to some strong elements of male-female polarity and through online discussions I realised that much of these paradigms had previously been used to ostracise or curtail homosexuals seeking to be Wiccan. While being celebrated as one of the icons of neopagan movement and the solitary path Scott Cunningham had to leave Wicca for a personal, solitary Path. I don’t as yet know if he ever joined a more open group but this did address the inherent homophobia (while understandable it remains what it is) in Traditional Wicca.
With society and the Craft progressing many authors have championed the argument for LGBT people to see the symbolism in things such as the Great Rite as being within us all regardless of gender and orientation. Though in doing so I feel many may have misrepresented the Old Religions which we draw upon for inspiration and guidance. How can there be “gay gods and goddesses” when society at the time didn’t have the concept of gay or homosexual? This is not to say that we didn’t exist because the archaelogical evidence shows gay people were around and have celebrated gods and goddesses and with oftentimes unique perspectives on deities too. Labels at the time differed if they were used at all.
Also many of the gods and goddesses attributed to gay people are done so because of certain same-sex love affairs. Though if we look at them most can be very different from the concept of courtship we hold to now, look at Ganymede and Zeus, by most accounts Ganymede was kidnapped and raped by Zeus as in most of Ancient Greece it would have been quite taboo to make love to someone your own age that was the same sex as you…this is not to say it didn’t happen just on the downlow.
Beyond the guidelines of courtship lies the underlying truth that the gods depicted as pansexual and surely as gods this might be true? Aleister Crowley, who was possible the most notorious bisexual of his era (hard not to be when considering it was Victorian England) claimed that the true state of spiritual advancement on the physical (Malkuthian sphere) plane was to be bisexual and therefore neither gay nor straight but balanced. Admittedly he was speaking from an era in which Qabalah and the pursuit of the Middle Pillar was the chief paradigm for most esoteric organisations. Traditional Wicca adopted the same mindset with Qabalah as a central or core belief actually.
Since Cunningham’s time the Radical Faeries Movement has sprung up in the US and even reached to areas on Ireland I believe. This movement is something that elludes my complete understanding as I don’t know anyone involved and depictions have not been very revealing online. Nonetheless, like the Dianic Tradition before it, it shows that sexuality can be celebrated but I do query the level of openess to those who do not identify as LGBTQ who seek to find something within themselves. If sexuality is a means to challenge ourselves to better understand both the projective and receiptive energies within us all regardless.
The real question at the end of this blog is do we really want to emulate the past to such extents? We’ve clearly got different parameters for defining sexuality now and modes of acceptable expression therein.