(A talk given to the LGBT "Fountain Moot", Birmingham; 18 May 2004)
Part 2: The Craft and Gay People
So - why the Craft - what does it have for us as gay people - and what do we bring to it...?
Because we work so strongly with the God and Goddess - and with their polarity - some people think that the Craft is not suitable for gay people.
Unfortunately, in the past there have even been some within the craft itself who have fed this idea - and who have written that the Craft is "a fertility religion based on a natural maleness and femaleness of mind" (whatever that means!). Based on such a limited view of gender - and of sexuality - they could not embrace what they saw as "feminine men" or "masculine women".
Thankfully, those old ideas are largely ignored in Today's Craft.
It is worth remembering that we understand the Divine through the lens of our own times and cultures - often even rewriting the myths and ideas of the past in the light of our own cultural understanding. Those who wrote with horror about gay people did so in a time when homosexuality was still a crime - and gay people where seen as sick. In their Prudery, they covered or removed the genitals of Greek statues, hid away "Licentious" images - and erased all reference to "The love that dare not speak it's name" from the myths and legends of Greece. Those they did not erase, they reinterpreted - to protect the "innocent eyes of women and children" from corruption...
It is interesting that such a limited - and Patriarchal - view also enshrined the idea of Masculine supremacy - and the ideal of the passive and assenting Woman. As such it limited and restricted everyone.
But - even more so than those religions that base themselves on the words of the past, we of the Wicca are a living and evolving Tradition - our roots are old, but we live in the NOW. And now we live in a culture that recognizes and embraces the diversity of Human experience - and of human Sexuality...
Most covens today do not consider the sexuality of their members to be an issue - Sexuality is embraced and celebrated as an integral part of each of us and of how we relate to the world - and the Divine. Whether you are gay or straight, it is only your calling to the Goddess and your gift for the Craft that is important!.
In all our years in Wicca our sexuality has never really been an issue to our Brothers and Sisters - any more than theirs is to us.
Of the hundreds of Covens that we know around the world, many are openly "gay-friendly", a few have transgendered members - and several, like ourselves, are led by either Gay or bisexual High Priests or High Priestesses.
It is interesting that of these, the majority work within the Alexandrian path.
The Alexandrian Tradition and Gay People:
Of the various forms of British Traditional Wicca, the Alexandrian path is possibly the most open to gay people - There are perhaps several reasons for this:
Our founder - Alex - was a true child of the 60's, and was also dedicated to the free expression of life and love. He was himself bisexual, and did a lot of magickal work with a male partner when doing the early work on the Tradition.
He continued working with the broader aspects of polarity throughout his life, including with his later partner and High Priestess, Maxine - who has herself stated that she finds gay people to be "Brilliant!" in the Craft - and to make some of the best Priests and Priestesses she has known.
Importantly - Alex himself felt that gay people had a profound role to play within the Craft - and perhaps even the Spiritual evolution of Humanity itself. In his final rituals, and again on his deathbed - he repeatedly spoke about the "Cup Bearers of Ganymead" - and the knowledge they would bring with them...
Polarity and Individuation:
In common with all forms of Wicca, the Alexandrian Tradition celebrates the interplay of God and Goddess - masculine and Feminine - and the outpouring of life and energy that is created by their union.
But, as well as celebrating that outer fertility of tribe and nature, we are also encouraged to nurture that greater aspect of fertility that is the alchemy of the Spirit: The bringing together of the Masculine and Feminine within!
By invoking the God and Goddess in their many forms, we come to manifest, explore and understand the many archetypal aspects of ourselves and the Divine - regardless of our physical gender and sexuality.
It is this understanding of one's Feminine or Masculine side - and the balancing of this internal polarity - that most straight people find the hardest to achieve - for in their lives they rarely have to look so deeply at the nature of Gender - or their own sexuality...
In "Traditional" Coven teaching it is said that a man can only seek the Goddess through the Priestess - and the woman the God through the Priest.
In Jungian terms this is the projection of the Anima/Animus - the manifestation of our inner selves as the "Other"... For a man the Higher Self is experienced as the Feminine Anima - for a woman, the Masculine Animus.
True Spiritual growth can only come from reconciling this division - a psychological process that Jung described symbolically as the Heiros Gamos - the Sacred Marriage.
Traditionally that seeking and reconciliation is seen in sexual terms - and in the Craft is partly expressed through the ritual of the Great Rite.
But! - As gay people we bring a different perspective to both Gender and the Polarity of the sexes.
When we come to terms with our sexuality, we all must reconcile our Feminine or Masculine side - we are after all men who love men, women who love women - as such we are already closer to an inner union of these two aspects.
In some Tribal societies this potential for gay-people to freely transcend the boundaries of gender roles often led to a special place for them - their breaking of the "norm" - their "Fey-ness" - was seen as something powerful - it made them "other-worldly" and was believed to give them the ability to see through the veil - and therefore to become a bridge to the Gods... e.g. the Berdache in American Indian societies, the shape-shifting Shaman in Northern Europe and the cross-dressing Hijra of Southern India...
Because of this unique position, it is easier for us to internalise this Fertility Rite within the Craft - and to truely transform it into Spiritual Alchemy - To unite and resolve the opposites within us all - and thereby to attain true oneness with ourselves - A unity traditionally represented by the symbols of the Tao, the Cadaceus - and the middle pillar of the Tree.
In Jungian terms, we attain Individuation - uniting the Anima and Animus within and creating ourselves anew.
In this we reflect and enhance the words of the Goddess in the Charge:
"If thou can not find it within, thou wilt never find it without..."
It is this ability to enhance the internal exploration of *all* aspects of the Divine that we feel is the gift that Gay people bring to the Craft...
In turn, we feel that it is the gift of the Craft to us that it helps us to embrace and explore the many aspects of ourselves - and to not become trapped by a limited view of ourselves or our sexuality.
Gay people and the Craft:
Pan is the God of sex - the thrill and thrust of passion and the driving hunger of lust. As such He represents *all* sex - regardless of sexuality.
Aphrodite is Goddess of Love - she blesses and inspires all love: regardless of whether that be between two men, two women - or any other loving relationship!
In working with the Goddess, we explore our Feminine - in working the God we embrace our Masculinity - in exploring Diverse pantheons we recognise and embrace the many faces of the Divine - and thereby free ourselves from the stereotypes that others project upon us...
In invoking and embracing the Gods in their many aspects we come to understand the multiplicity of our own Identities - and the power that we carry within us. We come to see that none of us can be reduced to a single aspect of our selves - that the Divine itself is so vast, so Immense, that it can only truly manifest itself in a thousand different faces, a multitude of names - and in the endless, eternal flow of life and love between them.
When we look into such Diversity, we see the richness of our selves reflected back - and realize that we must embrace that fullness within our lives.
For within the Craft you will find no restrictive commandment - no po-faced morality - no idea of Sin. We are taught instead to understand nature and our fellow man - to live according to our only law:
"And it harmeth none, do as thou Will!"
To keep pure our highest ideals and to strive ever towards them - letting naught stop us or turn us aside...
Most of all, the Craft - and our Goddess - teaches us to truely understand and embrace the Majesty of ourselves.
And it is this that is the True Gift of the Craft - in it's true embracing and celebrating of *LIFE* - ALL LIFE!!! For our Goddess ever inclines towards mirth and merriment!
The Craft enlivens, nourishes and enlightens us. It brings us into harmony with the cycles of the year, the changes in the seasons - and the changes within ourselves.
For "Every man and woman is a star, governing their own orbit" - so twinkle, twinkle little ones!!!