What “Queer” Actually Means

Yes This, Exactly- from Nornoriel: “And, while I strongly support same-sex marriage rights, I’m also of the opinion that we really as a society need to rethink the marriedfolk picket fence 2.5 kids monogamous vanilla whitebread neurotypical gender-binary-conforming gender-expression-conforming middle-class-office-careers SUV-driving casserole-and cookout-with-suburban-neighbors-having “just like everyone” thing, wherein GLBTQ+ people who fall outside of that modality of “normal”, who aren’t the Ultrabrite-smiling couple next door buying into the above scenario tend to get shoved under the bus in the name of “equal rights”, or even will get policed by others in our own community..”

Much as I too, try not to play identity police the definition of “queer” is getting watered down (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy did not involve dressing the straight guys up in steampunk outfits and teaching them non-violent resistance or something…) 

Among Millennials (my generation) this above couple would be very much a statistical rarity, whether a same-sex or different-sexed couple. Millennials, while they often don’t understand what “feminism” really is or identify as such, tend to be fairly egalitarian, and don’t worry much about gender roles. We also typically move in together long-term and don’t necessarily see marriage as a destination. We are very multicultural, sometimes we are called “Mosaics”. 

Bisexual here- being someone who is sometimes excluded from gay/lesbian spaces I’m pretty sympathetic to asexuals/gray-aces/demi-sexuals. What I think is a little silly is that people are framing things as if a ton of asexuals are trying to take over movements/organizations/gay bars (or what?) when asexuals are a relatively small minority, and *out, politically organized aces* are an even smaller minority. Once again, I think people’s perspective are being distorted by the internet.

If you experience sexuality in such a way that is ignored/erased/stigmatized by society, and you’re proud of your identity and don’t want to compromise it for other people’s comfort levels, to me that qualifies as “queer”. Better to band together than exclude people if they need support and want community.

August 29, 2014 at 2:36 am Leave a comment

Women-Only Space Does Not Mean Safe Space

I am really sick of the assumption by *some* feminists that women-only space is necessarily safe space. To begin with, I don’t want to have anything to do with all the transphobic crap that usually surrounds it, and furthermore even as a cis woman I don’t feel really welcome in the Girls Only Club. If these folks are so insistent on their narrow definition of womanhood, I’m sure at some point I’ll violate their pre-conceived notions. Too straight or too queer, too butch or too femme. Too something. I’m fine with participating in “anyone who IDs as a woman is welcome” spaces, but I do not go into them with the assumption that they’re automatically safer than spaces with men. 

I was never really a part of your “sisterhood” or “shared girlhood“, so save your cutesy speeches about sleepover parties and announcing when you got your period to your friends. I was That Weird Kid. I did have friends, growing up, but as I grew into puberty being a girl became less about having fun on my own terms- dressing up, having tea parties- as well as catching bugs and playing in the mud- and more about a list of obligations and rules that I had to follow. A few of these things I learned from my mother, who is a feminist herself and not inclined to push me into forms of femininity that weren’t my thing. But most of them were proclaimed and enforced with bullying, shaming, staring and shunning by other girls. In junior high, I got bored with all the fuss over makeup, clothes, diets, boys (really is anyone impressed by junior high boys?) and dances. I retreated to my books. Same with high school. Boys, for most part ignored me, but girls obsessively enforced “the rules”. 

After taking women’s studies classes in college, and observing how my experiences compare to other women, I’ve realized how much gender performance is part and parcel of faking being neurotypical. It’s suspected that women and girls are less often diagnosed with autism, or are labeled later in life because we are often better at passing as neurotypical, often by mimicking others, and just being quiet and withdrawn. My partner jokes that I have “male pattern autism”- I threw tantrums, I expressed loud opinions. My behavior was impossible to ignore, so I was labeled at fairly young age (at about 8 or 9) Anyway, I’ve gotten to the point that whenever I see a book or article, or hear a statement that “women think this way, communicate or develop this way” or whatever, I just think “That’s neurotypical women they’re talking about.” And most of the time whatever generalization was made doesn’t fit me very well, and may not even fit a lot of neurotypical women, but least of all me!

Now, I have indeed been bullied, harassed and sometimes abused by men but those experiences haven’t taught me that men, as a category of human beings are to be feared. I’m equally cautious with men and women in general social settings, though more cautious with men when walking down the street. 

So really, I ask you is really so much better for womanhood, girlhood, femininity or whatever to be defined and enforced by women rather than by men? I think the nastiest tool of the patriarchy is not the average man, but rather other women, even ones who call themselves feminists. We are our own worst enemy. I’m not letting off the men off the hook here, certainly they should be held accountable *as individuals* for their actions, but let’s not pretend we have this glorious utopian sisterhood. 

From transwomen and transmen, and cross-dressers and all manner of gender-diverse folks, I’ve learned that there are so many more options of who I can be as a human being, I feel more comfortable with being a woman in my own way *because of them* They are not in any way threatening to my identity as a woman. If they threaten yours, I think you’re the one who needs to work on having a healthy gender identity, one that’s based on being yourself rather than worrying about how other people identify.

August 29, 2014 at 1:29 am 1 comment

Call for Submissions- More Book Projects

Columbia: A Devotional for the Spirits of America

Call for submissions for Columbia: A Devotional for the Spirits of America, edited by Literata. Submissions open 1 May 2014 and close 1 February 2015, with a projected release date of May 2015. Submissions may include, but are not limited to, scholarly articles, poetry, short fiction, retellings or original translations of stories and texts, artwork, and rituals related to the goddess Columbia and her aspects, as well the many American spirits of place.
 
This goddess goes by many names: Columbia, Libertas, America, and more. She is the American spirit, both a personification of the country and the goddess of the land itself. She has myriad aspects and has been represented in varying ways over the years; each of us may see her differently depending on how we experience America, from the details of the dirt beneath our feet to the high-flying ideals we hold dear. How have you encountered Columbia? How have you worked with her, and what does she mean to you? Do you see Columbia, Libertas and America as aspects of a single different, or as different Deities? Do you see ancient antecedents for Columbia in such goddesses as Athena, Minerva, Roma, and others? How does Columbia relate to other national spirits such as Britannia and Marianne? What are some of the most memorable or unusual or transformative pieces of artwork — especially in public spaces — depicting Columbia that you have encountered? 
 
Devotional for Njord- ed. Nornoriel Lokason

“Of all of the devotionals on the market for different gods and goddesses of the Northern tradition, I have yet to see one specifically dedicated exclusively to Njord, the sea god of the Vanir… a god particularly close to my heart, who has long been dear to me.  His serenity and his wisdom, his generosity, kindness, and gentle humor, have blessed my life over the years.  He has given me and my family gifts of cleansing, renewal, and hope this past year at the Oregon coast, where his presence is powerful; in gratitude, I am stepping up to the plate to put out a devotional book in his honor, a gift of praise, and a way for others to know him and love him.

For this book I am soliciting prayers, poetry, essays on Njord (especially personal experiences with him), and rituals for Njord.  You may make more than one submission – please feel free to submit as much material as you like. This book – The Giving God: a devotional for Njord – will be going out via Ravens Hall Press (Nicanthiel Hrafnhild’s imprint, which released Visions of Vanaheim and will be taking the other three books in my Vanaheim series), with an estimated release date of July/August 2015.  The deadline for submissions is May 1st, 2015.”

Beloved Dead Devotional ed. Camilla Laurentina

Submissions open August 7th, 2014 and close February 28th, 2015.

The intention of this devotional is to build a source book of modern meditations, hymns, prayers, and other resources for death workers working in our greater community. All Pagan and Polytheist traditions are welcome and encouraged to submit to this project.

Submissions should fall into one of three categories: Vigil of the Dying, For the Recently Deceased, and Funerary Tools. They may include, but are not limited to meditations, poems, hymns, prayers, original retellings of myths, rituals, and scholarly articles with a focus on historical practices within one’s tradition. Artwork is also welcome and encouraged with a preference for pieces that are easily reproduced in black and white.

Click each link for more info! 

August 28, 2014 at 6:15 am Leave a comment

Good Posts on Mental Health/Illness

(Note: these posts are all personal accounts, and are not to be taken as professional psychological advice)

 The Thinking Atheist & Mental Illness by Hessianwithteeth  Yes! Just because someone suffers from mental illness does not mean they don’t value reason, logic and critical thinking. In fact they may know all too well how important those things are because of their mental illness!

Facing Depression by Carol P. Christ- Carol shares her experiences with depression and what she has found helpful in her journey

Spirit-work and Self-care by Nornoriel Lokason Having an intense spiritual life doesn’t mean neglecting taking care of yourself.

An Open Letter to the Toronto Transit Commission: Please Remove These Posters

A response to posters advertising a “Mystery Room” a “fun” scary role-playing game that involves a psych ward. 

On a more cautionary note-

No Good Deed- Sannion’s attempt to share spiritual info with a person with apparent mental issues unfortunately getting a lot of insults and threats in response. Thanks for trying Sannion! In the meantime, be cautious if you get contacted by someone using any of those names.

“I was contacted by a person who goes by Marie Benoit, Kerra Eivor, thelandofthesevenhorizons and no doubt a number of other online aliases. They claimed to be looking for information on Dionysos and shared a lot of rambling, incoherent and contradictory information about themselves.

I rolled my eyes and dutifully began answering their questions as best I could, since part of my service to the god of madness is treating the mentally divergent with respect.” Possible trigger warnings. 

August 28, 2014 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

Smoking as a Class Issue

Among the conversations I got into with my family while on vacation was some of my relatives expressing befuddlement as they traveled across Montana and Wyoming that OMG, There are Still All These People who smoke? How strange, I mean, *I don’t know anyone who smokes* What decade is this anyway? sorta comments. At some point I pointed out that these days, smoking is something of a class difference. It used to be that smoking was pretty evenly common among every class of people. The smoking rate has gone way down with rising awareness of health risks, social pressure and anti-smoking laws. But it tends to still be higher among working-class and poor people, at least in the U.S. This may seem counter-intuitive considering how expensive smokes can be, but consider this: nicotine is a stimulant- many of these folks are on their feet all day, and smoking gives them a little extra energy. Smoking can relieve stress, and many of them are very over-stressed. Yes middle class people are also often very stressed, but have more options for stress-relieving techniques. They also are more likely to be able to access smoke-quitting programs, alternatives like e-cigs (which have a high upfront cost) therapy etc. Many people who are recovering from alcoholism, addiction or mental illness smoke as a stress reliever. Once again low income= less access to recovery programs/therapy etc. A smoke, a drink or a favorite food that might be seen as comparatively bad uses of money and unhealthy choices are simple pleasures low-income people can access after a hard day (or night). I suspect that if my one uncle who lives on an Indian reservation was present, he probably would’ve backed up some of my reasons. Some of them seem to be acknowledged, but mostly my view was overpowered by White Middle-Class Liberals Know Best self-righteousness.

Now I’m not saying smoking is this great habit that we should all take up. I’m saying that think before you swoop down and condemn “Those People” for being foolish, short-sighted, selfish or whatever for smoking. I was reminded of all this while reading Nornoriel’s post in which he points out that as a coping/stress release technique smoking a couple times a week is not as bad as many people claim. “Vice” taxes on tobacco and liquor don’t really work, and essentially function as regressive taxes that have more of an impact on poor people. Which I suspect, is exactly what they’re intended to do. I wonder what would happen if someone were to propose a special tax on coffee. Everyone would pitch a fit. That’s the “acceptable” vice that people of all classes partake in. Both sleep-deprived office workers and truck drivers alike are dependent on caffeine. It’s a drug that makes you a good productive capitalist worker. Unlike say, marijuana…

 

August 28, 2014 at 2:50 am 2 comments

An awesome book project

caelesti:

Awesome! (Funny- notice how the male roles are much less defined by biology?) This is something we all need. Even cisgender hetero women who want kids feel constricted by these roles. Personally I’ve lately been identifying with the Fool archetype (which I see as distinct from Trickster) This time I need to actually keep track of the time- a year or so ago Tara asked me on my blog if I wanted to contribute to the disability anthology she wrote but I totally lost track of the info! But, well that’s part of being a Fool!

Originally posted on The Serpent's Labyrinth:

Tara “Masery” Miller and CJ Blackwood, my awesome colleagues at Staff of Asclepius at Patheos, are co-authoring a book with Taylor Ellwood (another awesome author) to be released via Megalithica Books (imprint of Immanion Press) about alternative archetypes – they are soliciting submissions for those who feel a close connection to archetypes other than the traditional triple archetypes of maiden/mother/crone for women, lad/warrior/sage for men, either in their worship or in the paths they have chosen for their lives. They’re looking for articles, personal stories, spells, and rituals from those whose journeys have been defined by this difference from the norm.

More about this project can be found here.

As a trans man who works with the Vanir – a pantheon of entities who are all over the spectrum and often defy gender stereotypes and break gender-normative roles (Freya the warrior, Frey and Njord nurturing men) – I am totally down for writing…

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August 16, 2014 at 1:42 am Leave a comment

Gods of Hollywood vs. Gods of Asgard

I wrote the previous post to survey what all is included in the large umbrella category of “Pop Culture Paganism” and what within it I personally find to be of interest. That does not mean I am giving my stamp of approval on every type of PCP-ism that exists and everything that each PC Pagan says or does. That would silly. Heck, even in more specific traditions/organizations I belong to like ADF, I certainly don’t agree with all of my co-religionists on everything and share all their individual beliefs and practices. 

Anyway, Lovemydane brought up an issue that is a major point of contention among the Asatru/Heathen community- the depiction of Thor, Loki, Odin et al. in Marvel comics.  I haven’t read any of the Thor comics or seen any of the movies so I can’t comment on them too directly. However, I do enjoy watching Oh My Goddess! an anime series (based on manga) that draws inspiration from Norse mythology. The main character, Belldandy (Japanese rendering of Verdandi) works for a “Goddess Help Line” which is accidently dialed by Keiichi Morisato, a shy college student. Belldandy appears in his dorm room and tells him that she will grant him any wish he makes. Befuddled by this gorgeous woman claiming to be a goddess, he thinks it’s a joke and wishes that she will stay be his side forever. She stays on Earth, realizing that she has created a contract with him that she is bound to fulfill. Later her sisters, Urd and Skuld show up.

Those of you who are familiar with Norse mythology know these three sisters as the Norns, the powerful Goddesses who decide the fates and  of humans by measuring and cutting the thread of life- and Wyrd. The cosmology of Oh My Goddess! is very different from Norse cosmology, and bears an obvious influence from Christianity- the universe is divided into Heaven, Earth and Hell, Verdandi, Skuld and Urd and others are under the authority of the Allmighty One (Odin- with some Jehovah influences) whereas in Norse myth, there are 9 worlds, and Odin, while powerful cannot determine Wyrd as the Norns can. Likewise, in Greek mythology Zeus is subject to the power of the Fates/Moirae. Watching this anime is just a form of entertainment, a purely secular activity though I find it interesting and fun to compare with what I know of Norse mythology. 

So, what if someone were to watch Oh My Goddess! and decide that they want to worship Belldandy, the character as a goddess. Would that be a problem? Well that depends. If they decided to completely base a religious practice off of the show and manga, it could be a rather unbalanced and shallow practice, because the media are designed to entertain, not to do all the things religions are intended to do. But that would be a problem for that one individual and would not really be anyone else’s business. Now if this person decided that Belldandy was the same as Norse myth Verdandi, and Oh My Goddess! cosmology/laws of the universe trumped Norse mythology, and was more “real”, “valid” and called themselves a Heathen/Asatruar and came into a Heathen forum, or offline in-person blot with all of these ideas, or tried to explain to the public (or just their friends/family) that what they’re doing is actual Heathenry, then yeah. Those would all be major ethical violations of Heathen community norms of piety and hospitality and we would be right to be offended. 

  On the other hand, there some people who initially come across Norse or Greek mythology references in pop culture and get interested in learning about the originals. It might just remain an intellectual/aesthetic interest for them or it might develop into a religious practice. If they come into a forum and mention that their interest was piqued by Hercules, Xena or Marvel comics, we shouldn’t attack them for it, but we should check to make sure they understand the difference. In works of fiction that draw on history, people will often put in a disclaimer that this is a work of fiction and not historically accurate. However they do not have that responsibility with mythology. (This movie not approved by Homer or Snorri Sturlson!) We can be offended when they get our mythology “wrong” but I think it’s better to just see as a different, alternate mythology. 

So if you want to worship a pop culture version of a deity, do you have ethical responsibilities to a community that worships a more traditional form of the deity? (Which you may or may not see as the same being, but they probably don’t) Yes, you do. You have the responsibility to not misrepresent yourself or your religious practice to the general public, the Pagan public and that specific community. As long as you do that, the more traditionally-minded polytheists ought to leave you alone. 

For more on the Marvel Thor issue:

Worse than Breasts & Melanin by Kvasir amongst the Gods

August 15, 2014 at 9:42 pm 1 comment

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