Neo-Paganism as a Mystery Religion...
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Neo-Paganism as a Mystery Religion...
It would now be pertinent to address how a conceptual duality and a gendered duality could function simultaneously without one enveloping or overpowering the other. Regardless of how high an individual holds an intellectual concept, the individual is still bound to gender. How then can a conceptual duality that stresses balance of all things remain exclusively masculine in it’s metaphors? The short answer would be that the conceptual duality goes “beyond” gender, that the metaphors can potentially be applied to gendered concepts, but ultimately refer to concepts understood as antecedent to gendered concepts. While this answer is ambitious, as a reply to a question posed by a society that holds gender to be reverent and relevant, it falls flat and lacks the humanizing element so often craved in religious discourse. To maintain a conceptual duality that preserves gendered integrity, much like gender, a few different options are available.
This post is a bit of a tangent from my central focus of Frigga, fiber and wyrd--but, as I hope you'll see, it's only a bit of one, since it does concern, rather closely, the values around which I've built my own spirituality, especially the very Heathen themes of choice and responsibility.
As you can tell from my profile photo, I am a pagan woman who chooses to wear some type of head covering at least some of the time. I've gone into detail on my own blog about my reasons for doing so, but just to recap a bit: I initially flirted with veiling a couple of years back, mostly as an extension of the semi-modest form of dress I had adopted. My partner had already started veiling daily by then as a devotional act for her God (long before the practice became trendy), and I wanted to see whether I too could enjoy some of the practical benefits she reported, mainly protection for the crown chakra and an additional buffer against the thoughts and emotions of others--something invaluable for psychically sensitive people such as we both are.
I also liked the fact that wearing a veil sends a visual signal to others that you are somehow different, set apart from mainstream society. This is in part a cultural signal; nuns wear veils, after all, and as the bride of a God I consider myself to be the pagan equivalent of a nun, more or less. (The "less" part of that statement being because pagans unfortunately have no established system or architecture in place to support this path.) True, most people walking down the street would never mistake a woman wearing a colorful veil, or a hat, or a kerchief, for a nun, but for me it acted as a tangible reminder of my path.
In the first article for this blog I mentioned the Löwenmensch, a 32-35,000 year old mammoth tusk carving found in Germany. Archaeologists assembled this beautiful statuette of a lion-headed human from hundreds of fragments. And in recent years it has become the eye of a storm of debate about the gender politics of Stone Age shamanism.
Although heavily critiqued in the last forty years, the notion that Europe's first human denizens were socially and spiritually matriarchal is still popular. Some proponents of this view argue that the Löwenmensch is in fact a female, not a male. And inferring from this theory, a few of them have gone so far as to argue that shamanic practice in the distant European past was practiced exclusively by women....
(I originally wrote about these issues--because I believe this to be more than one issue, not a binary--in my personal blog. In the interest of clarity and time, I have taken some parts of that initial post, which most of you have not seen, and worked them into this first part. Please forgive me, long-time readers, if it seems like you've read some bits before.)
I've been threatening to write about this set of situations--really write about it--for over a year. Every time I wrap my head and heart around it, some new information comes to light and I step back a bit, wondering what else I can add from so far away.
I will engage these on-going issues in three parts--Waxing to Full, Waning Moon, and Dark Moon. I hope you will bear with me as I develop my own thoughts, bear witness to what I haven't seen and step into a world that is both mine and not mine.
It's the women-born-women issue, of course--something that has been seething in some circles for a while now. The first large-scale incident, as far as I know, was at last year's Pantheacon, there was a fascinating repeat at Pantheacon 2012 and then we got the coverage of that powerful circle that blessed this year's Pagan Spirit Gathering.