30 Days of Paganism: Deity Gender

If you’ve spent any length of time here you know I could ramble on about gender for a loooong time (though I’m going to try to keep it short this time)…and that what I say now is totally subject to change a week, a month, or ten years down the road. My ideas regarding gender are fluid and evolving all the time.

Right now my general feeling is that gender as we understand it is a human social construct. That is, we created the idea of binary gender and mapped it onto our bodies in a way that is ill-fitting. (Other cultures might have different ideas of gender that aren’t binary, but I’m speaking from the perspective of the culture I was raised in, and Western culture in general.) Many people are comfortable with their ill-fitting gender assignation because they fit just enough into the category of “male” or “female” that it feels fine.¬†For the rest of us, it’s not so easy.

Binary trans* people are people who do fit into a binary gender system, it’s just someone fucked up when they assigned gender. Non-binary trans* people are people who just don’t have a place in the binary system, period, and we need to forge our own paths.

One of the ways I’ve been forging my own way is to re-think deity gender. Now, I’m not entirely sure if gender is really even a concept that can apply to deities, at base, but I do know that one of the ways I’m able to understand deities and relate to Them is via gender. So in the end, it doesn’t matter if gender is a purely human thing and deities are beyond it or not — what matters is it’s part of the package of perception that allows me to understand the divine. So I’m keeping it.

When I was first starting out in Paganism it was important to me to find a Goddess to work with. I wanted to feel divine feminine energy. I’d been told my entire life that the master and ruler of the universe was male, that divinity was male, that I had to subject myself to male needs and male energy. I hated it. I wanted the divine feminine.

I ended up not finding it until first working with a God. That turned out fine. After tM showed up and Thoth left, I thought I’d found the divine feminine. But it turned out I was wrong.

Over the years of working and interacting with the Big 3, I’ve come to understand Them as each representing a different force of gendered energy. Manannan is deeply masculine to me, even as He fucks around with gender roles gleefully. Brighid is deeply feminine to me, and the Morrigan represents the force of genderqueerness.

Of course, the way I understand Them and Their gendered energies is colored by my own experience. I’m femme genderqueer; I might even be a demigirl (not sure on this yet). I see the Morrigan as presenting femme, but still being undeniably genderqueer. This is why I often switch between She/Her and Ze/Zir pronouns when referring to tM.

Manannan is the divine masculine energy I’ve been looking for my entire life without realizing I needed it. His is not the masculine energy of patriarchy; He represents a reimagined, more feminist masculinity. It’s gentle, and not afraid of emotions, and strong, and you know sometimes He just wants to wear some pretty-ass shoes.

Brighid, the feminine energy in the triad, is so much more than what we’re told makes up “female”. Yes, She rules over the home, and domestic pursuits such as knitting or crochet, but She’ll also teach you how to use that knitting needle as a weapon if you need to, and She’s the strongest blacksmith on the block. She uses powerful arms at Her forge to create life itself, and Her power helps Her protect those She cares about. Her mantle goes over the entire land, claiming it as Her own and gods help you if you dare to hurt that land. She is the power of the sun and the flame — wild, untameable, able to make your crops grow or burn your house to the fucking ground.

She is everything that feminine means to me.

Oh, and She’s queer. Deity sexuality isn’t a prompt on the meme, so I wanted to mention it now: in my headcanon, Brighid is pretty much a lesbian. She comes across to me as having absolutely zero interest in men. Your mileage may vary, but to me Brighid is a lesbian goddess.

The Sacred Triad are the main deities in my life, so They’re the ones about Whom I’ve pondered gender the most. However, I’m also pretty sure that Dionysos leans towards being genderqueer, or at least “not quite cis”.

I think it’s important to look at deities as not just cisgender; to envision trans* deities. Not just the well-known, older deities either — newer deities that we’re only just meeting, too. I think having a pantheon of nothing but cisgendered deities is…well, boring. Humans aren’t all cis. Why shouldn’t the gods represent the variety we have in humanity? Why shouldn’t we trans* folk be able to relate to the deities we worship?

Representation matters in more areas than pop culture, after all.


PS: Hey, under 900 words! Awesome. I kept it short.