Monday, July 24, 2017

Polarity & Gay Men

If our ancestors were right, and gay men were actually lucky in love, as I have said in previous posts, why are so many of us today so unlucky in love?

In modern gay male culture, sex is readily available.  Whether you find it on an internet porn site, you go on a "dating" app, or you go old school and hit up a bar or club.  Friendships are less easy to find, and, depending on how jaded you've become, you might be tempted to think that relationships are less available than a unicorn farting rainbows and glitter.

The old saying "energy follows thought" seems to apply here.  Whether relationships actually are a thing of myth and legend or we just think they are, the modern gay male preoccupation with this "lack mentality" around meaningful relationships isn't helping us navigate a way around the problem.  That said, it also doesn't help that our collective perception is validated and reinforced on a regular basis.

There is good news though!

Our ancestors were not wrong.  Gay men have always been (and still are) lucky in love.  The problem is that we have been disconnected from our spiritual roots, and, like a tree whose roots have rotted in the soil, we cannot survive without a healthy root system.  It is imperative that gay men reclaim their power as magical workers, not just for ourselves, individually, but collectively, as a community.

Within the canon of occult literature, there is some wonderful occult wisdom that can be used to help us do just that.  The first bit of wisdom stems from the Universal Law of Polarity.

Understandably, many gay men (especially magical gay men) rail against the concept of polarity, because it has been used against us as a weapon.  Too often polarity is used as a euphemism for heteronormativity.  However, it would be a mistake for us to maintain our aversion to this awesome and powerful concept.  When understood correctly, the Law of Polarity can be used to empower gay men.  It is actually the key to healing ourselves from this gaping wound so many of us experience around love.

Franz Bardon, along with many other wonderful occultists, talks about the concept of the magnetic and electric fluids.  For the record, fluid is probably a bad choice of wording for this concept, because what we are really talking about here are forces.  However, for better or worse, the occultists from Bardon's era chose to use the word fluid.  Don't let it trip you up.

According to Bardon, in his book Initiation into Hermetics, these fluids have the elements as their source.  The electric fluid originates from the Fire element, while the magnetic fluid has its origin in the Water element.  By gaining control of these two fluids/forces, Bardon assures us, that the magician can achieve everything in all spheres, regardless of whether he is dealing with the mental, astral, or material world.  The thing that our ancestors gave us (gay men) credit for was the very thing that Bardon is encouraging the magician to develop: the ability to balance and wield these two opposites.

For the record, we, as gay men, have not lost that ability.  If you want proof of that fact, just look at the modern Gay Male Community.  How many Gay men play with gender?  How many Gay men embrace (or even play up) their feminine sides?  The Drag Queen, the makeup artist, the twink, the fashion designer, the boy walking around with a murse (or man-bag), the club kid who mixes male and female fashion to create a unique image--the list goes on.

We have however lost the wisdom of how to use this ability to balance both polar opposites within ourselves to the full extent of its potential, but hope is not lost.  The information is still out there.  We only have to search for it, recognize it when we find it, and use it.

(Next time, we'll go into the second piece of occult wisdom that will help us heal this wound of the heart.)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

When Good Luck Turns Bad … Confronting the Modern Gay Man's Struggle

After my last post, I struggled a little bit.

Everywhere I turned, I ran into documents that talked about the good luck that gay men brought their lovers.  Many of my followers on Facebook chimed in with their own personal stories about the luck that they brought their ex-boyfriends.  However, that joke about the gay second date kept nagging at me.
You know the one.  "What's a lesbian second date?  A U-haul and adopting cats!"  And then the follow up: "What's a gay man's second date?  What's a second date?!"

Though it's just a joke, like most jokes, it has a ring of truth to it.

If gay men are supposed to be lucky in love, and, according to all my research into historical accounts on this topic, we are (not just for our lovers, but for ourselves as well), where was the love in our modern gay culture?

Why are so many gay men so unhappily alone so much of their lives?

Now, something you most likely don't know about me is my overwhelming desire to be married.  I'm in a relationship, but I'm not married, and, to me, there is a value-difference.  I can't explain it.

I don't know where this desire comes from.  Maybe it was watching my aunt approach her thirtieth birthday  as an unmarried woman when I was just a child, and hearing her say things like, "I'm not going to be an old maid!"  Maybe it was the fact that I watched her strong-arm her then boyfriend/my future uncle into proposing in just enough time to avoid the chiming of that dreaded biological clock.  Maybe it was facing the idea of gay death (also thirty, for the record) in my own dating life.  Maybe it was growing up knowing that I wasn't allowed to be legally married and then watching as the Supreme Court confirmed our right to express our commitment to each other in this way.  I don't really know.  I'm still working through this on a very deep, very real and personal level, but what I do know is, regardless of whether you want to walk down the aisle right along with me or you just want to connect on a deep, soul level with another man who wants the same things you want, most gay men today struggle with love.

So, if our ancestors are right and gay men are lucky in love (not just for our lovers but also for ourselves), why are so many modern gay men seemingly so unlucky in love?

Friday, July 7, 2017

Good Fortune from the Gala

It was the summer of 2007, and my friends were calling me like crazy to see if I had seen my ex on HGTV's second season of Design Star.  I hadn't.  I was living blissfully unaware of that ex's existence, but once I heard that he was on TV, it was like trying not to think about a red car after being told not to do it.  I found myself having to check in and see how he was doing.

This ex broke my heart, and, though I dated him way back in 2004, I had only recently begun to get over him at that time.  Watching him on the TV was painful.  It brought back all the hurt and the loss that I had felt when we broke up, and I instantly regretted tuning into the show, but, after the same thing happened a few more times with other exes, I began to ask questions.

In 2010, another ex became famous on season 7 of Project Runway.  He gave me permission to use his name to lend credibility to this post.  If you would like to know more about him, his name is Jonathon Joseph Peters, and he is currently living in New England.  He is an amazing designer, and I highly recommend that you check out his work.  After hooking up with a bridal dress designer while he was visiting friends in Philadelphia, his success skyrocketed.  The year before we connected he was unknown.  A year after our romantic adventure, his low-end dress sold for $10,000, and his face was on billboards in New York City.  The other examples are less about fame and more about career success, and you probably wouldn't know the men if I listed them off, but I have quite a few exes who have achieved professional and personal success after we broke up.  After we broke up in 2007, another ex (who shall remain nameless, because he has requested it), got a promotion to store manager of a local Panera, which jettisoned his salary from $10 an hour to $62,000 a year.

Noticing a pattern, I started to ask myself what exactly was going on?

It wasn't until I earned my Third Degree in Wicca and I started studying the male mysteries that I began to understand this phenomenon.

As far back as Mesopotamia they understood this connection between good fortune and sexual intercourse with gay men.  There are Babylonian religious texts used specifically for divining the future which gave predictions based on sexual acts.

"If a man has intercourse with the hindquarters of his equal (another man), that man will be foremost among his brothers and colleagues."

"If a man has intercourse with a male cult prostitute, trouble will leave him."

"If a man has intercourse with a male courtier, for one whole year the worry which plagued him will vanish."

It does seem that the Babylonians felt that there needed to be some training for the gay man in question to be able to confer this level of good fortune to his partner, though.  Admittedly, there are also some negative predictions regarding sex with other men in Babylonian sacred texts:

"If a man yearns to express his manhood while in prison and thus, like a male cult prostitute, mating with men becomes his desire, he will experience evil."

"If a man has intercourse with a male slave, care will seize him."

While the homosexual behavior itself is not derailed in these documents, there does seem to be etiquette requirements for engaging in these practices, many of which revolve around the social status of the partners involved.  Whether priest or noble-born, it doesn't seem to matter, but it is clear that ordinary citizens were not qualified to bestow these blessings just through homosexual interactions.

Personally, I had not formally begun my training into the High Priesthood of the Old Religion at the point in my personal history that we are talking about here, but I had been studying the Craft and practicing independently for a little over a decade.  So, it's entirely possible that I might have accidentally stumbled upon something that unlocked this hidden mystery for me.  I don't generally like to think about past lives or talk about them in conversation, because the whole thing is a bit too trite for my tastes, but it is entirely possible that my part (whatever it was) in my partners' successes was due to the fact that I had been an initiated witch in a previous life.  I can't rule that out either.

Ultimately, regardless of why this thing had happened, it was incredibly interesting to see this personal quality bore out time and time again in the history of gay men as magical workers for their communities.  It helped me to feel that I was on the right path, and it gave me a sense of pride and purpose.

Have you personally noticed something similar?  If so, the path of the gay male witch might be calling you!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Same Sex Behavior at the Dawn of Civilization

Right about the same time that people switched from hunter-gather societies to a more agrarian lifestyle, the rituals of the Paleolithic shamans began to evolve into complex rites of worship, presided over by a priestly class who began to exercise increasing influence (and sometimes authority) within the communities in question.  The myths and rituals of the hunter-gatherers, which involved a mystical contract with the spirits of game animals, gave way to fertility rituals designed to increase the herds and guarantee the abundant harvests that they started to rely upon.

Around this time, a subset of the priestly class developed.  These specialized priests functioned as male cult prostitutes, similar to the transvestite priests encountered by the Spanish conquistadors in Meso-America more than a thousand  years later.  From the earliest Sumerian times, a significant percentage of temple personnel were individuals with homosexual inclinations.  The exclusively homosexual male held a special place within this theological system.  Sumerian records from the middle of the third millennium refer to gala priests, who were said to be created by the god Enki to sing "heart-soothing laments" for the Goddess Inanna.  Their homosexual inclinations are made clear by a Sumerian proverb that goes, "when the gala wiped off his ass, he said, 'I must not arouse that which belongs to my mistress [i.e. Inanna].'"  Even the word gala speaks to this priestly caste's homosexuality.  The word was written using the signs "penis-anus' in their language!

A similar role that often appears in Sumerian mythology and liturgical texts from 2000 B.C.E. onward is that of the kur-gar-ra or kurgarru.  In Babylonian and Assyrian texts the kurgarru usually appears in connection with the assinnu.  The sexual nature of the assinnu is also made obvious by the fact that the noun assinnu has the same root as assinutu, which means to practice intercourse.  The gala priests are also referred to Babylonian and Assyrian rituals, where their roles are even more instrumental than in comparable Sumerian rituals.  These various homosexual priests played a central role in Mesopotamian goddess worship all the way down to Roman times. (Neill, p. 84)

Today, the Gala Tradition of Witchcraft is in the process of reclaiming much of the functions, obligations and powers associated with these ancient goddess worshipping priests.  Naturally, we are not attempting to break any laws of the land, and because our modern society is so hung up on prostitution, we are not engaging in that ancient profession, though we are actively attempting to reintroduce sacred sexuality.  Next time, let's take a look at exactly what these ancient priests did in their cultures and how we might be able to modernize some of those duties.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Same Sex Behavior In Indigenous Culture

The differences between the European and Indigenous perspectives on homosexuality have always been glaring.  For the Europeans, it was a gross sin, something to be hidden away and denied with your very dying breath.  The various indigenous tribes around the world not only embraced it, but they often exalted it.

When the Spanish arrived in the "New World" after Christopher Columbus's infamous voyage, they encountered a culture drastically different than their own.  Of all the strange habits that the Spanish encountered in their explorations of this new land, they were least prepared for the wide practiced custom of homosexuality.  Not only was homosexuality widely accepted by every social class, it was also glorified in objects that served as temple art as well as being depicted on jewelry.  Even Montezuma, the Aztec god-king, was said to have sexual relations with the young warriors who were about to be ritually sacrificed.

In his first report to Emperor Charles V, Cortés wrote that the Native Americans of Mexico "are all sodomites and have recourse to that abominable sin."  Another writer, López de Gomara, called the indigenous people "sodomitic like no other generation of men."  A Catholic priest said that sodomy was virtually universal among the Aztecs.  He ran into numerous male prostitutes as well as unmarried temple priests engaging in sodomy while visiting the area in question.

As the European conquerors made their way across the North American Continent, they were continuously horrified by the sexuality they encountered.  La Salle's expedition in the upper Mississippi Valley in the 1690s found Native American men were even more fascinated by young boys more than they were by women, and this fascination engendered an effeminacy in those young boys, which only further inflamed the European hatred.  In 1702, the French explorer Pierre Liette wrote that the Illinois Confederation put all other nations to shame in regards to the "sin of sodomy."  "The young men, Liette continued, didn't seem satisfied by women alone, so 'there are men who are bred for this purpose from their childhood."

Homosexual behavior was not limited to what Europeans considered effeminate males, either.  The Native Americans were so uninhibited about homosexuality, in fact, that a masculine warrior could take the passive role in sex with another warrior without it having any effect whatsoever on his gender identity.

The Institution of what our modern scholars have called "the Two-Spirit" amongst the Native Tribes of the Americas was perhaps the most perplexing piece of Native American sexuality for the Europeans.  The respect that these individuals were shown within Native culture baffled the Europeans.  They were honored socially and given premiere standing within religious ceremonies and institutions.  Because of the spiritual connection that the Native Tribes ascribed to the Two-Spirit individuals among them, there is often a strong connection between Two-Spirits and medicine men and women.  (Due to the robust nature of this institution among the various native tribes, it is better to only skim the surface here and address this topic at another time in its own post.)

Homosexuality was treated in much the same way by other indigenous peoples around the world as it was by the native tribes of the Americas.  For the native peoples of the Pacific, homosexuality was the standard sexual outlet for unmarried men within a large number of tribes.  In the Bangala of the Congo sodomy between men was not only common, it was regarded without shame.  Homosexuality was also reported as being commonplace between men of the Tutsi and Hutu tribes of Rwanda.

Whether you're talking the Americas, Asia, Africa, or anywhere else for that matter, homosexuality appeared in one form or another and served various functions from social regulation and releasing sexual tensions to indications of an individual's calling towards a sacred duty within the spirituality of the tribe.

All quotes and much of the information from this post come from James Neill's book: The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations in Human Society.  If you enjoyed the information relayed here, consider purchasing his book for yourself.  It's a wealth of information!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Struggles with Inclusivity

I consider myself a bleeding-heart liberal.  I believe in universal healthcare (I even go so far as to say that healthcare should be both universal and FREE).  Okay, so that might make me Socialist, but I'm so liberal, I'm actually onboard with that label as well.  I believe that taxes should be high enough that the government can afford to roll out the necessary social programs that ensure none of its citizens are going without the basic necessities of life.  I support women having complete control over their own bodies.  I support Transgender people in their fight to be themselves without judgment, fear, or bigotry getting in the way of them living happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives however they as individuals seek to achieve that happiness, health, and fulfillment.  I am a gay man.  I have been college educated.  In nearly every category, I fit the bill of being a liberal, and I am proud to wear that title.

I've even gone so far as to say that all politicians should be "bleeding-heart liberals," themselves, because if you're not willing to bleed for your country (for the least among us, shall we say), how can you lead?  However, I am overwhelmed by the current state of "gender expression" as a political and/or sexual movement.

Let me say that I am overwhelmed not because I disagree with the message behind the movement.  I am actually onboard with the message, and I support it wholeheartedly.  I am overwhelmed because both sides are so damn aggressive.  It's off-putting!

The conservative, Good ol' Boy Club of white men who have controlled everything for the last X number of hundreds (thousands?) of years genuinely doesn't see a problem with the way other people outside of that Good ol' BOY club of WHITE MEN are treated.  In fact, they even go so far as to struggle to keep the status quo just as it was when their great-granddaddy was a boy, you know, back when America was "great," back when trees bore strange fruit and women knew their place: in the kitchen!  You know, back then.

However, when the liberals choose to speak on this topic, it gets to be just as bad.  We have gotten to a point where no one can say anything at all without offending someone else.  For better or worse, English as a language does prioritize the male as a group.  "Hey guys," is a perfect example.  Even if the group only has one man in it and everyone else is female, we tend to ascribe the masculine gender to the whole group.  In truth, we tend to talk about groups composed exclusively of women this way too, but I digress.  Personally, I think that needs to change, but getting mad at individuals who simply fall into convention and creating animosity over what amounts to nothing more than habit (without malice, without forethought) is not the way to bring about that change.  It only creates more animosity and closes people's minds to the idea of progress, which, let me say (as a liberal), I truly believe we desperately need.

Now, as I say this, I am reminded of my own personal misstep last night.  I was scrolling through Netflix with my boyfriend, looking for something to watch.  I came across a horror movie that caught my attention, so I read the description:

"An architect moves her husband and child …"

I stopped reading right there, shocked and appalled that I had made assumptions about the word architect.  The moment I read the job title, I thought the movie's main character would be male.  Then I spent 20 minutes or so, testing myself by saying various professional titles and seeing what the first image was to pop into my head.  Doctor, lawyer, accountant, entrepreneur, etc.  Each time, I was genuinely surprised to see that my mind conjured up images of men in these professions.  This realization took me back.

As I said, I genuinely believe that something needs to change, and I realize that I, personally, have some internal work to do on this subject, but the way we liberals are going about it currently is not the most effective way for implementing that much needed change.  I am one of them (the liberal left), and their behavior and tantrums in defense of principles over people has made me empathize with the conservatives who are at their wit's end.  How is that even possible?

I am a gay male witch with HIV.  By all rights and privileges, I should never see eye-to-eye with the modern-day conservative.  However, the behavior coming from "my side of the aisle" is admittedly alienating.

As a gay male witch, I deal with gender-bias on a very minor level every time I talk about my spirituality.  Today, nearly everyone imagines a woman whenever they hear the word witch.  However, that wasn't always the case.  In fact, if you dive into the etymology (the study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history) of the word, you'll notice a surprising lack of gender.  Our modern word witch can trace its roots back to the Middle English word wicche.  Wicche was used to refer to both male and female magical practitioners.  It was only convention and modern usage which ascribed the gender bias.

While I would love to reclaim the power behind that word for men, and, for the record, I do attempt to do that on a daily basis, I do not get mad at women who accidentally fall into the gravitational pull of habit by using the word in a feminine context.  As a male who proudly claims this neutral label for something as intimate and personal as my spirituality, I recognize that I am in the minority and that change is slow to occur.  I recognize that I need to put the information out there in a kind and positive way, and that I need to be patient when people genuinely misspeak without malice or harmful intent.  (When they intentionally mean to be hurtful by sticking to the status quo OUT OF PRINCIPLE or indifference, than that's a different story.)

Back to the point, though.  Today, nearly 24 hours later, I read a comment on a friend's post that crossed my Facebook feed, and I found my head whirling the other way around from last night.  I nearly got whiplash from it all.

He asked:  "Which Greek God or Goddess most fascinates you?"

The response back was:  "Just the Gods?"

At first I thought this commenter was attempting to broaden the discussion by including other spirits into the option, but as the conversation unfolded, her real purpose became clear when she said:  "recommend Divine, God/ess. even though I recognize the reason and respect it (kind of) eliminating the female to be inclusive... What if the broad term was Goddess ?"

What if?  But it's not.  The broad term is "Greek Gods," but here's the thing: my friend didn't use the broad term.  He didn't buy into gender norms.  He didn't "Hey you guys!" a bunch of women and girls.  He said, "Which Greek God or Goddess most fascinates you?"  The commenter took it there just to make a point, and, in the process, alienated a lot of people who should have been on her side.  Elevating the feminine up does not (and cannot) mean demoting the masculine.  They both need to be on the same playing field or it doesn't work.

In this fight for acceptance and tolerance, we, liberals, need all the help we can get.  The Good ol' Boy Club may be dying, but it's roots run deep within our societies, and it will fight hard to stay alive.  More to the point, the system is set up in their favor.  If we are going to make any progress on these really important issues, we need to stop alienating each other over principles.  Principles are wonderful.  They are, but we should never value principles more than people.  If the Good ol' Boy Club is going to go the way of the dinosaurs, then we liberals need to stop resuscitating it by alienating each other and imagining that everyone who disagrees with us is automatically in agreement with them.  Otherwise, we are winning a minor (and, yes, it is minor) battle only to loose the war!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Whitewashed Rainbows

If you know how to decipher the rainbow beneath the whitewashing of history, you will see that there are a great many myths about homosexuality that can be explored and mined for the spiritual evolution of gay and bisexual men.  Some of the more common (and, dare I say, damning--for red blooded American men would certainly be appalled by this revelation!) examples of male mythic figures with homosexual leanings are Hercules and Gilgamesh.  Hercules had significantly more male lovers than female, and, when at home, he often wore garments traditionally reserved for women.  Homosexuality is so intertwined within the tale of Gilgamesh and Enkidu that it is genuinely surprising to me that it was ever doubted what their actual relationship was to each other.  (By the way, The Epic of Gilgamesh is the oldest written myth known to man!)

It is not just within "civilized" cultures, however, that we find myths about homosexuality.  In fact, the documented cases of homosexuality among indigenous peoples far surpass their "civilized" counterparts.  The Aztecs actually had a god who acted as a patron to homosexuals and male prostitutes, Xochipili.  In the mythology of Dahomey from West Africa, the creator deity, Mawu-Lisa, was formed by the merger of the god of the Sun and the goddess of the Moon, who were twin brother and sister.  This merger created an androgynous or in some accounts transgender spirit.  Even the indigenous population of Australia (as far removed from the other examples as it is possible to get) had their own homosexual spirits.  Chief among the many examples is the Rainbow Serpent, Ungud, who is described in some accounts as simply androgynous and in others as transgender.

Mircea Eliade famously said, "The main function of the myth is that of establishing exemplar models in all the important human actions."  The exemplar theory of psychology "proposes that human memory assigns objects and ideas into broad categories and when confronted with a new object, the mind is able to place the new object into its appropriate category. For instance, tables come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, yet they all have in common that they are solid objects with legs and a flat surface on top. Therefore, it is possible for a human to place a formal dining table, a TV tray and a medical examining table all into the exemplar category of 'table.' Being able to categorize objects in this way, rather than having to analyze and label each new item individually greatly simplifies the human thought processes."  Basically, for the purposes of this discussion, this means that if a model (say homosexuality in general) showed up in myth, it was prevalent enough between individuals within that culture that it needed to be explained in some way.

So what exactly were the roles of men who loved men within the various Indigenous Cultures around the world?

In order to give this question its full-due, let's address it as an independent post next time.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Couretes

Joseph Campbell is quoted as having said:

“Myth basically serves four functions. The first is the mystical function, realizing what a wonder the universe is, and what a wonder you are, and experiencing awe before this mystery.  The second is a cosmological dimension, the dimension with which science is concerned – showing you what shape the universe is, but showing it in such a way that the mystery again comes through. The third function is the sociological one – supporting and validating a certain social order. It is the sociological function of myth that has taken over in our world – and it is out of date. But there is a fourth function of myth, and this is the one that I think everyone must try today to relate to – and that is the pedagogical function, of how to live a human lifetime under any circumstances.”

I generally tend to agree with Joseph Campbell on almost everything he wrote.  The man was brilliant!  However, I do have to disagree with him on one part of this quote.  I do not think that the sociological function of myth is out of date when it comes to Gay people.  In fact, I think all four functions of myth are imminently important to the construction of a healthy sense of self for modern-day Gay people.

Our stories have been wiped from the pages of history by bigotry, hate, and fear, and that makes building a positive self-identity incredibly difficult.  Gather enough insecure people together, and you build a community of people who are potentially destructive to both themselves and others.  Ask any Gay man (who doesn't fit the ideal of what Gay male beauty currently is) what he thinks of the bars, the clubs, the Gay Scene, or the Gay Community in general, and he will undoubtedly have some pretty choice words for you.

I believe that reclaiming Gay myth and using it to encourage Gay People to embrace their innate power through those myths would be one excellent way to heal the damage that has been done to Gay People (individually and as a community) over the years.

Compare Campbell's four functions of myth with the Gay Community you know.  Wouldn't that Community have been better if gay men actually realized the wonder that they were and the power they have innately inside themselves?  What if they could find beauty, wonder, and mystery in the world around them, instead of feeling like everything was against them, or that it was lackluster, or that there was no joy to be had and nothing to be done about it?  How would the Gay Community be different if gay men had that kind of hope?  How about if Gay men could find a useful and APPRECIATED place for themselves within society, instead of being the bud of straight culture's jokes?  How would that have shaped the Community differently?  Finally, what would Campbell's fourth function of myth have done to help Gay Men persevere through the struggles?  How would that inspiration have united us instead of allowing us to tear each other down?

As I said, in general, I agree with Campbell, but because the Gay Community is just starting to emerge from its centuries of silence (in the cosmic order, we're relatively young), I truly believe that this budding community needs its myth, it needs a chance to reach its roots into richer soil than our modern culture has sown these last two thousand years.

So, let me start with the Couretes, because, through them, I think you gain access to a purpose for gay men that fits directly in line with the kin-selection hypothesis discussed last time.  When Cronus set about eating his children, Rhea was distraught.  There was very little she could do to stop him.  It wasn't until her baby Zeus was born that she had had enough.  During her contractions Rhea clawed at the earth in pain, and magically, five beautiful men emerged from the grooves her fingers made in the soil.  Rhea gave her new-born son over to these men (his brothers), who became known as the Couretes.

The Couretes were a band of dancing warriors who banged their spears against their shields as they danced around the fire.  It was this ritual, which they used to protect the infant god Zeus (and later on his son Dionysus).  As baby Zeus cried out in the night, the Couretes danced wildly to the sound of their spears clanging against the metal of their shields.  As the myth goes, it is only because of these dancing warriors that Zeus grew into adulthood and was later able to reign upon Olympus.

While nothing in the mythology itself comes right out and specifically declares that these men were attracted to other men sexually (at least not any more), there are two key indicators that seem to reveal this truth within the written mythology.  Whenever these keys show up in any mythic story, they generally tend to mean that the mythic figure being talked about has some sexual or romantic attraction to other men.

The first among these is the reference to these men being "beautiful."  Whenever the writers of mythology go out of their way to associate male beauty with a particular figure, that is the first indicator that he may very well be attracted to other men.  You see it time and time again.  Apollo (the god of music, truth and prophecy, healing, the sun and light, plague, poetry, and beauty), Xochipilli (the Aztec god of games, beauty, dance, flowers, and song), and Dionysus, the god who sat down on a thyrsos (a pine cone tipped staff) to symbolize Priapus's phallus, is often portrayed as a beautiful young man.

Second only to the beauty reference is the connection with dance.  Both Xochipilli and Dionysus have connections to ecstatic dance, and Apollo is connected to the music that generates it.  Another god with homosexual leanings who is connected to dance is Shiva.  In fact, dance is so instrumental in Shiva's mythology that the most easily-recognizable image of him portrays him dancing on the back of a demon.  Shiva's claim to homosexuality lies with the Hindu Fire God, Agni.  The two lovers play a game where Agni goes down on Shiva, attempting to get the god's seed.  In turn, Shiva attempts to hold back and enjoy the pleasure for as long as possible.

Assuming that my reading of this myth is right and that the kin-selection hypothesis holds true, the Couretes would make an excellent resource for modern day gay men who wish to reclaim their rightful place within their communities.  They are guardians of the next generation who have all the strength and power of male warriors, who choose to stay back and use their skill for protection and defense, instead of aggression.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Argument for a Fertile Homosexuality

In my last post, I turned to evolutionary biology to make the case for homosexuality as a natural part of the cycles of fertility, justifying the inclusion of gay people in those occult traditions which are centered around the fertility cults.

For the longest time, admitting gay men and lesbians into their covens was a huge issue within some witchcraft circles.  Though nobody would go so far as to publicly declare that gay men and lesbians were NOT a part of fertility, there was a decided lack of knowledge about how we fit into the cycles of fertility, and, therefore, how to include us in fertility cult traditions.

Even gay men and lesbians, themselves, lacked (and still lack) a coherent and universally recognized theory for their own roles within the cycles of fertility (both in and out of occult circles).  For many of us, finding a partner, settling down, and raising a family was/is viewed as "playing it straight."  In fact,  back when I was coming out (in the 90s), gay men my age and older would dramatically roll their eyes whenever I said that I wanted to get married.  A few of them even went so far as to attempt to shame me for "trying to be something I wasn't," and no amount of arguing that we deserved to be treated as equals with straight people would persuade them that I wasn't engaged in some radical form of self-loathing.

Our ancestors did not share in this lack of knowledge about the role that gay people played in the cycles of fertility.  According to James Neill (author of The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations in Human Society), paleoanthropologists who studied the behavior of early humans believe that one of the primary factors in the success of these early peoples was the evolution of group behavior and interdependence.  As our species developed, smaller societies and clans began to function as one organism, with individual personalities beginning to emerge and everyone contributing to the well-being of the larger whole in his or her own way.  Exclusively homosexual males have been documented performing a range of tasks from providing a "special friendship" to warriors on campaign to caring for the sick for these early clans.  However, regarding the concept of fertility and what we would call gay men, the most interesting fact about exclusively homosexual males in these early clans is that they were protectors of the domestic sphere.  They assisted the women in gathering nuts, berries, tubers, and firewood, but they also served as guardians in case the tribe was attacked while the other men were away at war.

Neill says it best: "With no children of their own to absorb their energies, these homosexual members would have been better able to assist their close relatives.  The presence of these non-reproducing adults would have had the effect of increasing the proportion of productive workers in the total population of adults and children, thereby raising the per capita productivity of the group in their efforts to bring in such necessities as food and firewood, and in tending to domestic chores.  Because of the extra help these individuals [exclusive homosexuals] would have provided, their close relatives would have been able to successfully raise more children, and the ability of the group as a whole to survive would have been enlarged." (p. 72)

An argument might even be made that families with access to these exclusive homosexual members thrived while other families without exclusively homosexual members perished … or, at the very least, were less successful.  It might even be said that most of us today owe our existence to exclusively homosexual ancestors, because, without them, our particular ancestral lines might have died out long ago.  Within the terms of evolutionary biology, this scenario is referred to as the "kin-selection hypothesis."  So, contrary to the popular opinion today that gay people are completely removed from the cycles of fertility, if evolutionary biology and, specifically, the kin-selection hypothesis are correct, it would seem that gay people have a long and deeply rooted tradition of assisting the fertility of their family, tribe, clan, or community.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Homosexuality & Fertility

With the celebration of the Spring Equinox having just passed, it only seems appropriate to talk about the role of homosexuality in the natural cycles of fertility.

Many opponents of homosexuality (most notably the Christian Right) believe that it is unnatural, and, being unnatural, it should not be tolerated.  It is rare to find a magic(k)al organization or individual who feels as staunchly as the Christians in question do on this subject, but the outcropping of this prejudice does appear within the stratum of many modern magic(k)al communities.

Traditional Wiccan covens, specifically British Traditional Wiccan (BTW) Covens, (and I speak of this, because it's what I know best, certainly not because this is the only place in Wicca or witchcraft that it happens) have a long history of denying gay men and lesbians entry into their ranks due to concerns regarding polarity and what it takes to light that magic spark.  Over time, many covens loosened their restrictions, allowing Gay men and Lesbians into their circles, but only if the initiate agreed to practice within the coven as part of a heterosexual pairing, only if they agreed to be initiated by a person of the opposite gender/sex.  Even today, there is a great debate going on within the British Traditional Witchcraft community about polarity, cross-gender initiations, and how to handle Gay male, Lesbian, and Transgender initiates.

While it is tempting to shake our fists and rail against the system on this subject, one really cannot fault the BTW community.  At the very heart of their argument and, consequently, at the heart of their resistance to the concept of homosexuality within the coven dynamic is a reverence for their traditions and a desire to preserve what they know for a fact works.  When their covens were originally formed, they simply did not have access to the level of information that we have at our fingertips today, in the Internet Age.  Furthermore, even today, with all the information that we have at our disposal, nobody can agree on the correct procedures for a great deal of information that is fundamentally central to the practice of Witchcraft.  On the most basic level, you have eclectic, self-taught Wiccans/witches arguing that their self-initiations are valid, while a great deal of the coven or tradition-based witches argue that it is essential to be part of an initiatory Coven to truly learn the Craft.  Even within the initiatory lines of Wicca/witchcraft, you have a great deal of disagreement.  The Gardnerians and Alexandrians both believe they are the standard, but back in the day, Robert Cochrane dubbed Gardner's group of witches "those Gardnerians" as an insult to differentiate his group (who was obviously doing it right) from theirs (who were obviously doing it wrong), and, since I mentioned Cochrane, don't even get me started on the Traditional Witchcraft and Wicca divide!

All that said, I would like to go on record, and say that as a gay male witch with BTW training, who went off and started a tradition of witchcraft that explores the male mysteries within covens of Gay and Bisexual men, homosexuality is most certainly a part of fertility, and, now that we have access to more information, it is the perfect time for new methods of working these old systems to crop up and flourish.

In evolutionary biology, there is a principle which says that if a structure, function, or behavior occurs in a number of individuals or species, and if it persists through several generations, then that feature can be presumed to serve some evolutionary function.  Homosexuality can be traced back to well-before the dawn of civilization.  We have written records of homosexuality dating back to Mesopotamia.  The Epic of Gilgamesh (the oldest written myth known to man) is about a loving and sexual relationship between what we, today, would consider a demi-god and his male lover.  If that one fact alone doesn't prove that homosexuality has been persistent through several generations, I don't know what else would!

If this foundational principle within evolutionary biology is sound and credible (and, personally, I believe that it is), then the "naturalness" of homosexuality when considered outside of personal prejudice should not need to be argued.  However, what one person calls prejudice, another calls preference, and since I am not here to talk anyone out of their beliefs (only to offer my own), I will simply present the argument and let you, dear reader, decide for yourself whether it is compelling or not.

Tune in next time for the argument …

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Need for a Sense of Pride and Purpose

Over the past 48 years (since the Stonewall Riots launched the gay community's Civil Rights movement), we have come a long way.  Though we have more rights today than we have ever had before as a community (we can openly serve in the military, we can marry whomever we choose, and we have several human rights organizations defending us and advocating for our continued rights in the political sphere), the damage that was done to our community in the past cannot be forgotten.  We were demonized.  That smear campaign was so successful that it made many of us hate ourselves and each other, but worse than all that, our contribution to society was erased from the pages of history.

Just after I earned my third degree as a Wiccan High Priest in 2011, I recognized a need to make traditional witchcraft more inclusive of gay men.  At first, I expressed this need by asking one simple question.  "Where is the romantic and sexual relationship between the Horned God and his male lover?"  The Goddess has been portrayed in a Lesbian relationship since the classical period.  Diana's female lovers are as much a part of her myth as the dogs with which she hunts.  However, the Horned God of Witches was not portrayed the same way.

From time to time, witches might pay lip service to the pansexual or omnisexual nature of a god like Pan, but it is quickly brushed over, and then they quickly turn back to his sexual encounters with the Goddess and follow their relationship through the Wheel of the Year.  There was no commonly accepted and celebrated stable and ongoing loving, sexual, or romantic relationship between the God and his male lover, and I wanted to know why.  (More on that in a future post.)

This one question led me to do what I did best: research.  I began studying the Horned God and the many faces that have worn that title for various traditions.  I studied ancient mythology and folklore, and I began reading about the male mysteries.  (Thank you R. J. Stewart!)  Eventually, my research began to coalesce.  I found a book called The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relationships in Human Society by James Neill, and his bibliography led me even deeper down the rabbit hole.

What I found from reading Mr. Neill's book (and countless others from his extensive bibliography) was that men who exclusively loved men had a very rich and beautiful history of being magical practitioners for the tribes they served all the way back before the dawn of civilization.  Though Western Society had attempted to wipe us from the pages of history, and though that campaign was relatively successful all things considered, there were still tattered threads that could be followed to help us reclaim what we as a subculture had lost.

This pride in our history and the sense of purpose it can give us as men who love men is sorely needed by gay and bisexual men today.  We live in a world where being "feminine" is a bad thing.  Men are still ashamed to throw or do ANYTHING like a girl.  Even women use that as an insult against men.  Men who grow their hair long are judged.  If a man knits, sews, or crochets, he is viewed to be "odd" at best by mainstream society.

Even gay men judge other gay men harshly if they are too feminine.  "If I wanted to date a girl, I would be straight," "No fems," "Straight-acting here" are all phrases that are casually thrown around on gay dating sites.  It's really very damaging, but without a sense of pride or purpose, how can we fault each other for this particular transgression, especially given the antagonism leveled against us by mainstream society?

Something has to be done, and, personally, I believe the answer is to empower gay men and to give them back their sense of purpose.