I’ve had to undergo some humility training since my last blog (that inaudible murmur was the sound of over 300+ friends saying “about bloody time”). I like blogging and normally I try to be a responsible blogger at that, but even so sometimes I am myself and place my foot hugely in it. I need to make some roundabout apologies to Traditional (Initiatory) Wiccans and British Traditional Wiccans alike as I have been generalizing to some degree.
My rational behind it all
Thing is despite hosting Pagans in Eire
and having been involved with forums for some time now its only been recently as an adult whereby I found myself in places with Traditional Wiccans (primarily Alexandrian and Gardnerian Wicca) and all to often I found myself having to defend eclecticism within the modern Craft movement, probably due in part to my age and heavy saturation of dubious resources from ‘Wicca 101’ material being usually cited. I have to say that when Wicca 101 material is cited as gospel or universal I too have issues as experience of the Craft and magic often yield very different understandings than the limitations of a book or any one individual. Its for this reason I much prefer and rejoice when I see copious amounts of citation and referencing in books.
All that being said and having been largely a solitary in my Craft, the thorny issue of polarity has been something poorly explored not because I’m gay or a man but because I’m solitary. Its really impossible to explore currents of energy in groups when there is no group. So as you can already see while I may loathe being completely reliant on Wicca 101 material its almost exclusively whats available. Yet Wicca 101 isn’t necessarily what is covered in Traditional Wiccan groups (as can be seen with the recent move to reassert that the initiatory tradition of Wicca from Gardner and Sanders is still distinct from more eclectic Wiccan paths).
While I no longer class myself as Wiccan a lot of my foundations in the Craft come from Wicca as it is presented in published materials. As such I don’t wish to deny this fact and re-write history and one of the first concepts I read about were the Hermetic Principles, and these remain very influential to me; which even in my ceremonial work ought to stand to me.
Wiccan support of LGBTQ campaigns
While I’ve been endlessly touched by the support of members of the Wiccan community when it comes to supporting LGBTQ campaigns and politics I have in the past been very critical about the inclination to blend issues. A neopagan friend of mine puts it so sublimely when she says of the issue of linguistics that “its the differences not the similarities” that she finds interesting. While being gay and a pagan has a lot in common with one another they simply are not the same.
The Craft being a fertility religion as much as a system of magic in my view lends itself to the expanding understanding of the relationship between gender and sexuality and also fertility. Heck without fertility I wouldn’t be here, would I? Never mind being so fabulous (had to inject some humour as I was in danger of taking myself far too seriously). As a knock on effect from this train of thought I’m more than willing to embrace the importance of polarity in ritual, as a means to develop an understanding of myself. Polarity, in my view, stands to offer perspective from self and Other as well as the Self and one’s self. The Hermetics looked at magic as a means to union with the Holy Guardian Angel (HGA) through the Higher Self (often perceived as anima-animus). This anima-animus dichotomy has [naturally] found it’s way through expression as sex and gender, wherein my own confusion as postulations come into effect is that if a magician’s or witch’s anima/animus is of the opposite gender to themselves does this necessarily mean that one’s magical working partner has to be of the opposite sex? Indeed this is skimming the argument of trans* people – whose birth sex doesn’t reflect their gender.
As magicians and witches in the 21st Century and working from such principles how sex and gender work in the modern magical system.
Subjective-reality of it all
My understanding has been that the Hermetic Principles inform the Wiccan systems quite well and as witnessed through dialogue with Albiana
(herself a Gardnerian High Priestess) and I also spoke to some other Gardnerian and Alexandrian friends from around the cyberhenge and its clear that the Principle of Polarity has been under continual growth in understanding. I do need to state that emphatically as my previous blog has hurt a few people of my acquaintance and I would dread to think that that was it’s effect as I happen to know beyond all question that they are completely in support of a variety of LGBT campaigns.
As a gay man one of the major occurrences around people’s perceptions of my sexuality have been that in some way I am more feminine and this remains a symptom of our society. Unfortunately though simply being LGBTQ identified doesn’t automatically grant someone an amnesty from societal influences and independent from the neopagan community LGBTQ people often elect to celebrate sexuality via the inversion of gender norms.
In this moment in time I class myself as a “Pragmatic Pagan” meaning if it works for me then it sticks around. I want to make practical and realistic sense of various aspects of modern paganism before adopting them fully into my way of Life. One of the most recent developments for me has been identifying that I don’t want to be on a continual ecstasy when pursuing magical work and witchcraft. I think Pratchett said it best when he said it was all about headology. This isn’t to imply that tradition is useless, on the contrary it seeks to reassert the role of tradition within the Craft as a whole.
Heres were I come to a snag in my train of thought in terms of being a pragmatic pagan and a gay man living in the 21st Century. As definitions of sexuality progress and become ever more independent from those of gender and vice versa how does paganism progress beyond the original perceptions around the interpretation of the Principle of Polarity.