Posts tagged ‘GLBT’

Shamanism Part 3- Other Words, Other Worlds

I encounter with relative frequency, individuals calling themselves shamans or having an interest in shamanism in both online and offline settings. I suspect most of them are not Evenki or Tungus Siberian folks, though there is the occasional exception. I would humbly propose to other well-meaning defenders of indigenous cultures that screaming cultural appropriation! at these New Age “shamans” is probably not the best approach, especially if they are not actually the ones leading the weekend sweat lodge retreats and publishing books on Shamanic Wiccan Druidry. Instead, let’s have conversations.

Is there a better word to use than shaman?

What are you trying to describe with the word shaman or the adjective shamanic?

A role serving a particular community as a spiritual specialist who does lots of intense spirit work, healing and otherworld journeying?  What tradition do you work within? Are there more culturally specific terms?

A solitary path that involves intense spirit work and otherworld journeying? Spirit worker, mystic, hedge witch/wizard/warlock

A belief/worldview involving plant, animal and other spirits?  Animist

Some Potentially Very Bad Reasons for “Deciding” to be a Shaman include…

Connotations of “Noble Savages” who are more “in touch with nature, what it Truly Means to Be Human etc.” in contrast to This Corrupt Urban Industrialized Disenchanted society that I still don’t want to leave cuz indoor plumbing and electricity are nice… Please unpack your cultural assumption baggage again- some books that might help:

Playing Indian by Philip J. Deloria

Orientalism by Edward Said

Books, articles and classes on postcolonial theory, postcolonial feminism, anthropology, cultural area studies (American Indian, East Asian, African diaspora et al.)

You have what Western medicine classifies as a mental illness, chronic illness or other disability. Therefore, shaman *must be* your spiritual calling!  You have a shaman-sickness! You are specially/chosen or “marked” by the Gods/Spirits/Ancestors! Your suffering, isolation etc. now has meaning and It All Makes Sense Now!  OK, let’s slow down. I admit this one is a little close to home, as I myself qualify as neurologically divergent in various ways (autistic, epileptic, ADHD, etc.) I believe this *does* make my spiritual perceptions and experiences unique and different in various ways, but I’m hesitant to jump to the conclusion that This Means I Must Have a Special Cosmic Destiny!!!

For one, I know plenty of other people with the same conditions as well as other disabilities that do not have any such spiritual inclinations and get pretty darn irritated when they get the “You are Special Child of God” or the other extreme “You are possessed by demons!” crap from people or similar Pagan/New Agey versions- “You’re an Indigo Child”, “You did something bad in a past life, and this is your punishment”. There does seem to be a higher than average number of Pagans with various disabilities and medical conditions, how much of that is self-selection or by Higher/Lower Powers That Be is up for debate.

You are transgender, non-binary, genderqueer, gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, pansexual, intersex, asexual, kinky, yada yada…and once again this gives you a magical ticket to shaman-hood. In various cultures- yes shaman-type roles are often associated with gender-bending/blurring/fluidity and sexual “otherness”,  though it’s important to remember that late 20th-21st century Western identities like I just mentioned above are different from alternate sexual and gender identities found throughout human history and contemporary cultures around the world. We can certainly find a lot of inspiration and ideas from these various identities, and learning about them can put into context how we view GLBTQ+ identities in our own cultural settings, and how they can have collective and individual spiritual meanings and roles. But likewise, a gender/sexual/romantic minority might see their identity in a completely secular manner, or see their identity as mostly incidental to their spiritual role and development.

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October 5, 2015 at 10:00 pm 4 comments

Bi/Trans/Queer Heathen/Asatru Links

Heathen 101 info

Getting Started with Heathen Practice

Books for Getting Started

Books to Avoid

Being Queer-identified & Heathen- Safe Spaces– Nice essay, but it’s a little old, so some bad links. Hence this list.

Friendly Online communities

LGBTIQ+ Heathens

Queer Heathens– Facebook, closed group

ADF Heathenry

Heathenry & Northern Polytheism

Urglaawe– Pennsylvania Deitsch Heathenry (see also related Deitsch culture/language groups)

Lokeans & Allies Ice Cream Social– Loki’s peeps are typically very sexuality/gender diversity friendly!

Virtual Sessrumnir– for devotees of Freyja

Vanatru- the Vanic Way

Heathens Against Hate- Blog, Facebook

Circle Ansuz– anarchist Heathen group (I’m not an anarchist, but they have good info on far-right Heathen groups)

Heathens for Social Justice

An Actual Asatru Study Group

Historic/Cultural Info

Sex, Status & Seidr: Homosexuality & Germanic Religion by Diana Paxson

The Viking God Odin- A Queer God of War (Note: this article is about a book written from a gender studies/queer studies perspective rather than a religious/mythic studies one, but hey the author is Norwegian…)

An Examination of Gender in Viking Age Scandinavia

Nithing/Nidstang are Old Norse queerphobic slurs/concepts- don’t use them!

Modern Inspiration

Lofn’s Bard– modern inspired stories about Frigga’s court (all unmarried ladies…)

First Love– modern inspired story about Frey

Personal Essays

Heathenism & Being Queer

Transfeminist Politics of a Trans & Queer Heathen Anarchist

Not Recommended Spaces/Communities & How to Recognize/Avoid Unfriendly Groups/Individuals

Asatru & Heathenry Facebook group

Asatru Lore Forum

The Asatru Folk Assembly, Asatru Alliance (they publish Vor Tru magazine)

How to Spot a Racist/White Supremacist in the Heathen Community 101

July 7, 2015 at 1:20 am 7 comments

Midsummer Musings

I typically don’t celebrate the Summer Solstice formally, because Dan & I usually go camping around that time. A couple times when I was at home, I performed an ADF style Hellenic ritual for Helios. For a while my cultural foci were Gaelic and Hellenic, now it’s Germanic & Gaelic. In the Gaelic tradition, the solstices and equinoxes are less important, though there are some associated customs, particularly in Scotland where there is more Norse influence. American style Asatru & Heathenry tends to lump everything into a pan-Germanic blob, albeit with a Norse/Icelandic, slant but I’ve been trying to sort out where the different holidays come from, and what people added in- like “Vali’s Day” instead of Valentine’s Day. Altogether, the customs of Midsummer are very similar across the British Isles, Scandinavia and even in Baltic and Slavic countries- bonfires, herbs and flowers being gathered and believed to have magical properties for health and fertility, wearing flowery wreaths, dancing and mock weddings being performed.

I think there are some holidays that work OK for solitary practice- Samhain for example can be rather quiet and contemplative. But clearly summer holidays are not like that! But we do have community festivals coming up- the following weekend will be the Twin Cities GLBT Pride festival. Totally secular and modern of course, but I can’t help seeing a lot of the same themes, just in a queer-er form. I’m not sure if there will be bonfires, but surely there will be barbeques- this is America after all! Certainly we’ll be having them on Independence Day. People will definitely be having sex, even if it’s less prone to baby-making! Cross-dressing is associated with some holidays- more so with Beltaine & some versions of Samhain, and that will certainly be going on. Drag is a performance, a ritual of sorts, and theatre comes from ritual. Fairies and witches are believed to hang out on Midsummer’s Night.

Aine- the Irish goddess of the summer sun, is also a fairy queen (there may be more than one Aine)

Sol, the Norse sun goddess has Afrodull as one of her epithets, which can be translated as Elf Splendor, Elf Shine or Elf Wheel (more info here- this page is about Yule, but has a lot of speculation about Sol) To me the idea that the Sun goddess was more important at one time in Norse religion rings true, and the author suggests we can see echoes of that in Idunna, Freyja and others as well as a stronger sense of who she is from their Baltic neighbors to the east, as Saule.

In Deitsch lore, it is told that Oschdre (cognate with Anglo-Saxon Eostre) created the colors of the world. Oschdre could be another sun/dawn goddess.

The rainbow flag originally had eight colors representing hot pink for sexuality, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for the sun, green for nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony and violet for spirit. Since the colors pink and turquoise weren’t easily available (the first flags being hand-dyed by Gilbert Baker, who created the flag in 1978) the colors were reduced to a standard six, but I love the symbolism behind the original flag.

So these are my weird brainstorm-y ideas. I’ll sleep on it & see if I can make a ritual out of it- I’m thinking one that’s for the purpose of blessing the GLBT community, with particular emphasis on bi/pan & trans/genderqueer folks.

June 18, 2015 at 8:57 am 2 comments


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