Focusing on the Arte Magical as a practice and profession, we study various facets of magic through the lens of both classical and modern perspective. From ancient myth to urban legend to fiction and philosophy, all viewed through the eyes of a very practical magician.
I apologize if this article is triggery to any of you, as it represents a departure from some of the more light-hearted blog posts I've been writing. It's not the norm for this blog, but I felt it needed to be said.
So, Ruadhán J McElroy posted a marvelous blog article on whether one's paganism is really very transgender/genderqueer friendly. I'm sharing it here.
Those of you who know me are aware that I myself am genderqueer (I'm a man, not terribly effeminate, but rather feminine nonetheless, and I like to consider myself a bit of a genderblender), and I am also in a relationship with a transman. The issue of gender has always been a close one for me, and often a confusing one.
In Ruadhan's article, he mentions the Pantheacon drama which erupted around Z Budapest's ritual, a controversy which I was unfortunately present to witness, being friends with some of the people who were involved.
Now, keep in mind that I never posted on this when it first came up because my input would in no way improve or aid the situation. My opinions on the rights of all people, and also on unnecessary drama-llamaing or cruelty to others, can be found in a variety of places both online and in articles I've written. It's should come as no surprise that I was very unhappy with Pantheacon, with Z, and with a number of the so-called "activists" who were causing disruption on either side of that conflict.
Ruadhán made some very good points about gender- treating all people of a particular gender as if they were the same is similar to racial white-washing. It's not a good plan, it leads to tremendous misunderstandings about what makes a man a man (or a woman a woman, for that matter). To say nothing of the fact that human beings are capable of expressing seven different gender types just physically.
However, my focus at the moment is upon Z and her behavior. I realize this is two years of talk and argument later, but I wish to say something about her situation.
Now personally, I have always had the opinion that when learning from a teacher, or taking in wisdom from another person, one should understand that such a person is also on their own path, and has their own needs.
Being a teacher myself, I have had many moments where what I was saying was not actually helpful to a student. They were instead words which acted as an object lesson, a reminder to the student that teachers aren't always right or wise.
I like to think of it like the Hermit card from the Tarot- we can guide, but we're really on our own journey, so any guidance we provide is only that which we have gathered.
I also believe that we can become so busy paying attention to our status as a 'guru' that we forget that the wisdom we're sharing isn't "ours;" even if that gnosis or experience has been hard-earned by us, the experience belongs as equally to any who approach it.
Essentially, Z's behavior in the past seven or so years leads me to believe that she is clinging to Diana out of a need for protection, and is probably not in a good space to teach anyone at the moment. This should be respected by those around her, even if she herself cannot respect it. We aren't always wise and perfect, after all.
The serious trouble here is that her message is so triggery and cruel. In her desire to protect herself and her people from the ravages she has endured or witnessed, she commits the same atrocities, to people who never wished her harm.
When I was younger, I was involved in a great many spiritual groups and ventures in my local area. There were several open circles which met for lunar or Sabbat holidays, and we used to keep in touch with each other through Yahoo! groups (remember those?) in addition to our regular in-person interactions.
On one of the groups, there was an older man who was very well-liked and respected by the community. He was considered an Elder, and many people considered him their mentor.
Now, he and I came into conflict due to his unfortunate penchant for reposting other people's material off of various websites and forums without crediting them, passing it off as his own knowledge. I was a voracious Net-surfer, and am still an avid reader, so a great many of these articles, I had read at their original sources. Couple that with the fact that the information was (as is so common on the internet) often grossly inaccurate... and let's just say that it rubbed me in all the wrong ways.
Our mutual dislike of each other didn't start immediately- we began as friends. Slowly I grew to dislike his arrogance and "Older = Better" attitude, especially considering the hypocrisy I was a silent witness to.
It shouldn't surprise anyone to know that I'm not actually very good at the silent part of being a silent witness. I was just very young, and very few people gave me any credit when they contrasted it with my age. So, it wasn't that I was silent- it was that I was ignored.
Finally, I had had enough of him, and I orchestrated a huge blowup wherein he would be exposed for being a charlatan and a liar, while simultaneously making a name for myself as someone who was "smarter than the average bear."
This... didn't go as well as I'd hoped. The community splintered into fragments, and even now, we're trying to heal wounds that were caused by my actions.
We're healthier now, and some of the more disgusting habits we had been quietly fostering in addition to the aforementioned hypocrisy came to light, which meant that we could take a stand about such issues.
But it was painful, and several people are still dealing with that harm to this day.
I regret that.
It is my opinion that others in our global community will grow to regret their actions in this situation as well. The shame culture we still surround our queer and gender diverse members with must fall, but we must replace it with something else, or we will merely cause division and destruction.
It is my fervent hope that people in this community begin building that new pattern of acceptance and support, and that we may fill the space with a new vision soon.
After all- many of the Pagans who came to the Craft from other religions had to accept a regendered deity, Goddess instead of God. Many had to embrace multiple beings of divinity. We mustn't think of this as something which accidentally happens. We are initiated into these mysteries and understandings through the pain and joy in our lives.
For myself, I shall pray to the Mysteries, that they may open new gates to us and show us the new way through.
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