I have to admit, in my world the mere mention of Szuszanna Budapest is often followed by a heavy sigh and an eye-roll. I haven't taken her seriously since the whole pantheacon debacle a few years back. Like many contemporary pagans I feel that she has been less of an ally the past few years and more like the crazy aunt at the party we all try to avoid. She is famous for her stance against anything Y chromosome related and has on several occasions been verbally abusive to members in the trans-community. I had grown almost comfortable with my distaste of all things Z Budapest, after all each time she opened her mouth she only reaffirms my opinion. Then she goes and ordains a man.
Our usual solar stories about the turning of the year focus on the birth, maturing and death of a sun god who might fight his rival at midsummer and will probably father himself. Imbolc is all about pregnancy and birth. Beltain is all about impregnating. It’s a very heterosexual narrative, when you get down to it.
Nature is not exclusively about heterosexual reproduction. What we would understand as homosexual behaviour crops up in all creatures. If you’re part of a wolf pack or a bee hive, it’s about the group, not about spreading your own genes directly. Many plants have both male and female sex organs – if you insist on understanding them in those terms! On top of this, plants will also reproduce through suckers, bulbs and other ways of doing it for themselves without any need for pollination. Some creatures change gender. Oysters have all the kit, and effectively change gender every few years. Other life forms – fungi particularly, are asexual, and reproduce without any input from anyone else.
I am about to tell you a Deep Reclaiming Secret. Seriously. This is, like, twelfth-level initiate stuff.* This is the secret of how to become a Reclaiming Witch. Are you ready? Here goes (at least, as I was taught. Your Moose May Vamoose):
In order to be considered a member of the Reclaiming Tradition, you must name yourself as such and agree to abide by the Principles of Unity.
Do we celebrate diversity, or do we simply tolerate it?
Mitchell stares at me intently as he asks the question.
Mitchell has helped bring trans awareness into Bay Area paganism, particularly Reclaiming events. So I had to stop and think. Do pagans really celebrate gender diversity and transgender people’s experience?
Or do we simply tolerate people who are permanently seen as “other”?
Mitchell has been part of the Spiral Dance ritual in recent years, when the “trans deity” invocation has certainly felt celebratory.
But he’s also been part of rituals that practice inclusivity by invoking “both goddess and god,” or that do gender work which recognizes only two groups, often defined by how we were labeled at birth: male and female.