This is a small part of my story, a small part of my experience of being female. This small piece of my story is a minuscule piece of all the different stories of billions of transgender and cisgender humans who self identify as women, or gender fluid folk who have their own rich and diverse experiences and stories around flowing through and holding woman as part of their identity, or some gender neutral folk (or trans men) who deal with being mis-identified and treated as girls and women despite their self identity. No, this part of my story is most certainly not the whole story, and in fact is even a small part of my story, and I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to why I’m sharing it now.
I ran across a fascinating word while copyediting a book a few years ago. Naditum is one of the five genders in Sumerian paganism. It's a gender, a biological sex-- meaning those born female appearing who turn out after adolescence to be infertile-- and a social class, the priestess caste. The idea really resonated with me, even though that’s not my tradition. The various heathen traditions don’t have a specific gender word for those identified female at birth who cannot have children and instead become priestesses. In heathenry, that’s still a woman.
I've started and deleted this blog entry half a dozen times, both in my head and on the screen, over the last several days. It's hard to know what to say when your heroines fall, when your leaders betray you, when your inspirations prove to be hypocrites of the worst sort. And even if it's not the first time -- and it's not the first time -- it doesn't get any easier. What do you say when the place that you came to for healing and liberation is exposed as a site of pain and oppression for others, especially for others you care about? How do you stand up and say, "Not in my name"?
When witchcraft first flourished in the 20th Century, it was cutting edge. Hot on the heels of the feminist movement, the fledgling environmental movement, and a time of great social upheaval, neo-paganism opened a whole new realm of possibility that at once called to our roots but also challenged dominant paradigms. At the same time, a lot of us are drawn to pagan beliefs when we ourselves undergo inter and intra-personal change. To dedicate yourself to a pagan path is a challenging step to take, and the journey is a difficult one. If it was easy - everyone would do it. To be a pagan is already a radical and progressive act. But is it enough? I'd like to offer my own interpretation of what radical, progressive paganism can look like.