Or…Gender Roles in the Wiccan Clergy
Let’s face it; Wicca is, at its heart, a fertility religion. Once you strip away the rituals, the liturgy, the tools, it is all about promoting the fertility of the Land, the People and the Animals so that the tribe can continue to survive.
So how does this affect the Clergy?
It means that there are very defined roles in the Clergy. It means the Clergy has to keep that in mind when they perform their duties. Submissive desires in a Priest are not seen as a positive trait, neither is a priestess who no longer can have children. Strong virile “king of the herd” males are the optimum summer king choice. Young, nubile, fertile priestesses are wanted, and when you get too old to be fertile, you are gently retired to have a new Priestess take your place.
Where does the Transgendered person fit into this? I hope to explore some ideas and beliefs with you now.
Just what is a Priest or Priestess? They are the living representative of the Gods on Earth. They are the people the Tribe or Coven turns to so they can gain the insight of the Gods in their day-to-day life. Because of this it seems natural that a Priest would be speaking for the God, while a Priestess would speak for the Goddess.
In a transgendered person, however, those sex-linked roles are reversed. A Priestess can speak for the God, and a Priest can speak for the Goddess. Just because their outside package says they are one sex, does not mean they have to follow that gender’s roles.
Gender roles in society are a tricky thing. Cultural norms change over time and in different societal groups. In western traditional culture, men “should” be masculine, women “should” be feminine, men “should” be dominant, women “should” be submissive, and on and on. These are the same gender roles that have been in existence since the dawn of time.
Let’s not fool ourselves, there ARE gender differences. Men tend to be taller and more muscular. That makes men perfect for going out and doing things that require physical prowess, lifting things, moving things, hauling things back. Men are built by nature and natural selection to go out and hunt down and kill animals, and to drag the carcasses back to the fire to provide for the family.
Women, on the other hand, tend to be nurturers. They give birth to babies and they take care of those babies. They feed them; they tend the home and the hearth. Women are the ones who tend the crops and who see to the repair of the shelter that they have. They are physically smaller weaker. Their breasts have milk in them, and their hips are wider to facilitate giving birth and living through the experience.
When someone feels they are in the wrong body, you have conflicting ideas and messages physically, psychically and spiritually. That is where transgenderism comes in. While I am not going to discuss all the issues of the transgendered community, I feel these people aren’t wrong, they are feeling a call that is different.
It is my sincere belief that all souls are androgynous. They ultimately have no sex. A soul is simply an energy form of an eternal being, one that has its own desires and needs. To have that, a soul may or may not have a sexual identity.
It is the spirit that has a sexual identity. It is the spirit which has a personality, which has memories. The spirit is what is the sum total of a lifetime, the “person” whom the soul chooses to be at this moment. It is a mask drawn over the soul to give it a form that is a bit friendlier to others.
Is it any wonder that occasionally the soul pulls on the mask of a girl, and in some strange process it gets born into the body of a boy? Accidents happen and there are occasions in which something that is done or not done causes a gender to form for a soul/spirit which is of the opposite gender.
In the past, these peoples were sought after as people of great spiritual prowess. In some Native American cultures, and possibly in other aboriginal cultures (although I have not looked into the matter), these “two spirit peoples” were seen as having a closer connections to the Land of the Spirits, and thus to the Gods. They were elevated as those who were more holy in many cases.
Men who loved men, women who loved women, men who wanted to be women, and women who wanted to be men, were not derided nor were they chastised, they were allowed to explore those parts of themselves, they were encouraged by those around them and they were helped in their spiritual journey.
I have been told that in some Druidic rites (and I can find no mention of these other than being told of it by someone whose motives I question) the Druid would have to summon the Goddess and channel Her to be considered a true Druid. I do know that there were male priests of the Greek-Asiatic Goddess Cybele who would make themselves sexless to better serve the Gods. Cybele’s cult got mixed up eventually with Rhea and Demeter but through it all even into Roman times, it was served by eunuch priests.
All this leads to the question; if this phenomenon has been around for such al long time, why aren’t there more transgendered in our Circles and Rituals?
To me it suggests that there are more transgendered people still in hiding than we know of right now.
It has been suggested by Dr. Alfred Kinsey that human sexuality is a spectrum, a sliding scale. At one end theoretically you have all male/masculine people, at the other end you have all female/feminine people. In between those two extremes you have the whole range of human sexual identity. You have people who are slightly female, those who are slightly male, those who fall in the middle and identify as both male AND female.
I believe there are actually TWO scales; a scale for your personal sexual identity and a scale for sexual attraction to others. Between these two scales, you get every combination of person possible. You might have a very effeminate male who rolls his hips when he walks who is attracted to females, and the same effeminate male who is attracted to other males. You could have a female who is very masculine who is attracted to men or women. It all depends on where in those scales a particular individual happens to fall.
A crucial aside here is the fact that we no longer live in a hunter – gatherer or simple agrarian society. As society has become more complex so have our deities. Our chosen representatives to our deities must become more complex individuals as a result.
I believe that it is necessary for anyone who calls themselves Clergy to understand and be able to empathize with both sexes. It is important for a Priest to be not only a Priest of the God, but also a Priest of the Goddess.
I’m not saying that the Priest in question should or should not be gay or transgendered. I am saying that I believe that it should be a basic requirement for a Wiccan Priest to be both able to take the place for the God in rituals and ceremonies and to be able to do the same thing for the Goddess. There are times when the Gods will come through Their Clergy and talk to someone, and the Clergy has to be able to handle that. They have to be able to not only control the energies, but they have to be able to take themselves out of the way of the Gods and allow that channeling to happen without interference.
The Clergy member in question should also be able to do this without melting down because he suddenly feels breasts on his body.
For most men, suddenly feeling what a female feels every day would be a MAJOR blow to their egos. Imagine what it would be like to feel smaller, weaker, to feel their hands be more delicate, to have their center of balance to be off, to be missing a portion of their anatomy and to have other parts. I had this happen to me once and it was a very freaky sensation. It threw me completely out of what I was doing and I have not been able to get back to that same level since. Then imagine the opposite if you are a woman.
Having someone to whom this sensation is not only welcome, but looked for, would be a blessing, don’t you think? Who better to be prepared when the God descends on a Priestess than someone who actually used to have testosterone running around in their body all the time? To a female covener having trouble understanding why her husband, who isn’t fooling around, is no longer interested in sex. Is there anyone better to turn to than a Priest who was once female?
When we get down to brass tacks, you have to ask yourself a simple question: Do you trust your clergy member? If you, as a woman, go to a Priestess who used to be male, don’t see it as going to a lady who used to have a penis, see it instead as going to a woman whom you trust to talk to you about issues that are important to you?
Trust me, every male who wished to be a little girl has taken time to read about and think about and in some cases actually do the things they wished they could have done when they grew up. They have talked to doctors and psychologists about it, they have explored those feelings with them, and they might have roleplayed it out as well. They WILL understand your issues and be able to talk to you. You are not talking to a man anymore about your daughter’s first period, you are talking to another woman who might be able to help you.
In ritual, the package doesn’t matter. The important things in Ritual, in the Circle, in the Place that is not a Place and Time that is not a Time is the energies raised, the entities invited and the Works done. If the energies raised are female, who should care or even know if the person who raised those energies is genetically male? Will the person who is being blessed by the God wonder what is under the Priest’s loincloth or will they simply take the energies of the God and use them in their life? If they are wondering they aren’t in harmony with the power and the circle and aren’t getting anything out of the service.
One of the things I have always said, it is not the wrapping paper that makes the present important, but what is inside.