And suddenly, I’m very aware of gender bias in Neopaganism.

The whole Pantheacon “thing” really gets under my skin.

On the one hand, there are things about it I don’t think I’ll ever understand.  I’m unquestionably male in appearance and in outward personality.  I’ve never had to cope with many of the issues that those friends of mine who are transgender have had to cope with.  I’ve never had to look at the face in the mirror and feel like the person staring back at me “is not me.”

On the other hand, a significant part of my spiritual and cultural identity is decidedly transgender: my feminine higher self is always there, guiding my hands and words in often very subtle ways.  She is honored and cherished, and with some adjustments over the years is happy and content with the balance as it sits.

I am a member of a spiritual group that has sought out my divine feminine self, and nourishes her.  She holds a special place in their ritual structure.  They accept the fact that She is in a male body.  They accept that when she speaks the words may be coming from a male mouth.  And they honor and cherish both the male container and the female self.  They look beyond the physical into the spiritual, and see the Creature inside for what and who she is. And all are happy and content with the balance as it sits.

In a moment of clarity while meditating about the “Z Budapest Situation” last night, I bolted out of meditative state when I heard my internal voice say the following line:

As the athame is to the male, so the chalice is to the female.

.. and I realized the inherent sexual and gender bias in that very statement and in the way the Great Rite has been played out, time and time again, in just about every Pagan tradition I’ve ever been affiliated with.  And suddenly, I’m no longer content with the balance as it sits.

In the pagan display of the Great Rite as presented here, there’s no place for transgenderism.  There’s no place for non-heterosexual intercourse.  There’s two clearly defined roles: of the athame, the male, the phallus.. and the chalice, the female, the womb.  The implications are profound.  You either have a penis, and are male.. or you have a vagina, and are female.  And the only valid display of the Great Rite is a penis inserted into a vagina.  That is the Only Sacred Thing: there is no opportunity for two athames to interact, or two chalices, or any other combination.

I don’t know where I’m going with this thought, other than I’m actually now a little bit ashamed of myself for not seeing this sooner.  And I’m left with a lingering uneasiness that maybe it is time to reclaim a new ritualization of this act.. one that accepts that human sexuality isn’t black and white, isn’t just about the Pure Male penetrating the Pure Female.  One that can accept the paradigm of homosexuality, of transgenderism, and of transhumanism.

Trust me, there will be more.

EDIT: a slight change to the wording in a couple places was made at 1:15pm for prosaic flow.

As above, so below.

I really don’t have much of a developed opinion over the verbal free-for-all presently going on in the pagan comminity over PantheaCon.  But, I do have this observation.

Any group that excludes based upon factors that do not take into account the holistic individual are doomed to exactly this sort of failure.  If, as Z. Budapest has had a quote regarding this attributed to her along these lines, one must have a period to be “female”, does that mean that a woman born female but had her uterus removed surgically before puberty (due to disease or injury) isn’t a woman?  What if medicine were to provide a way for genetically born men to have a uterus “grown” for them and implanted?

Where does one draw the line?  Sex and gender are rarely black and white.  I thought the whole point of this exercise was that we don’t have to be defined by stereotypical gender roles because we may have been born with one particular set of genitalia.  We are all capable of being divine, both feminine and masculine.

Oh, and other genders as well.