This is a discussion that’s very personal for me. I have family that are LGBT, and the way the christian faith handles the topic never sat right with me. It’s also one that over the years, I have seen the pagan community stick their heads in the sand over. Rather than talking about it, I have found plenty of forums that won’t even touch the topic. When they do, the typical answer is “Well they just have to figure that out on their own.”
Let’s stop that. The point of having a community is to support each other. It’s the place where the new members have a chance to find their feet by learning from the people who lived it. When we approach a topic like this with such a dismissive attitude, the what we are saying “We don’t care enough to have a better answer.”. We should care because these people have every bit as much right to have a voice as anyone else.
Aleister Crowley was bisexual, and he also brought us out of the shadows. Instead of contenting himself to worship secretly with an exclusionary order, he put his faith right out in the open for the whole world to see. He literally traveled the globe to do his own research when he found topics that other pagans in his time didn’t have good answers for, and he published his conclusions with his own money. His refusal to back down and keep silent earned him the title of “The wickedest man alive”, but he paved the way for other leaders of the pagan movement.
Thanks to Crowley’s publicity, Gerald Gardener had access to more books on the topic when he developed the structure for Wicca. The public attention Crowley had generated also gave Gardener an audience ready to embrace the mystic. What Crowley set in motion, Gardener refined into something board housewives could pick up and run with. Many pagan writers are still using the foundations these men established, and woman power is still quite central.
Between the popularity paganism had with women and the increase in followers it got during the heart of the woman’s rights movement, taking back goddess worship has become a major theme for websites and books alike. To be fair, yes, there is a goddess for everything, if you take the time to look. There is also a god for everything, if you take the time to look, and some deities never had a gender at all or shift between them. Yet often men are left in the role of worshiping the glory of women. After all, if you wanted to worship a god, what’s wrong with Christianity?
Some take a more balanced approach to gender with ‘the lord and lady’. In theory, both genders stand equal on the alter and in worship, and it’s the old way of handling the topic. This concept got me scolded, because I never really felt the ‘call to the goddess’ come through, so I never declared a patron goddess for my alter. In my heart and my mind, a patron god lends me strength and helps me to find enlightenment. Why do I need a goddess? I don’t.
Archaeology can tell us that in the oldest practices, it can be ‘lord and lord’ in one house hold, ‘lady and lady’ in another, and in some there may be only one deity, or five, all in the same village. Artifacts can tell us that the gender roles of gods and goddesses can be down right blurry. One of the only relics we have depicting Odin All Father is disputed because he’s wearing woman’s clothing, and we all know Odin is a man’s man.
So we can prove that gods and goddesses from many nature worship traditions in the past may not follow gender roles, but what about lowly humans? There is more than one branch of eastern polytheism that considers those that are between genders to have a closer relationship with the divine. We can also find it in Navajo oral tradition, Greek and Roman records, and there is strong evidence from a bog to say Druids valued them.
Culturally, we may have lost sight of it, but LGBT has long held a place of respect in the stories and practices the neo-pagans are reviving. America, despite a christian majority that condemns it, can vote to allow same sex marriage. It’s well over due for the pagan community to stop just ignoring this group and start embracing it as we once did.