Queerness is the magic of gender, it is a lived experience of shape shifting in relationship to energetic reality, and it is something every one of us humans do with the mysterious force of gender.
What is gender? It is kind of like asking what is color. The answer is that it is a mysterious force in the universe, one of a few foundational energies that create this world. It is alive in us on all levels of body, mind/emotion, and spirit.
We can look to ancient energetic traditions to find gender expressed in nature as a force and a component woven with other nature energies. We can look to nature itself to find a massive variety of gender expression. I am a huge plant nerd and this is one area in nature in particular where you will find this.
Colonialism, driven by standardization and materialism to meet its productivity goals, has produced a reality dependent on the erasure of spiritual and energetic existence at large, and the eraser of diversity of genders and sexualities as part of that.
This teaching offering is about unpacking what I have learned as a queer mystic about gender. I am a queer transgender witch; a dancer, herbalist, astrologer, gardener, acupuncturist, qi gong practitioner, and bodyworker; I have worked with the crossroads of energy bodies my whole life.
This was born in the energies of Imbolc, of which I am deeply imprinted as my birthday is near…this energy of innovation and visioning is here and of Brigid, the healer and the water bearer who bridges the known with the unknown. Please bear with me, this is long, I have a lot of knowledge I need to share, so read some, and come back to it. I hope you read it all. What I am sharing is from my own experiential knowledge and interpretations, so definitely know that I am not aiming to represent this as speaking for all of queer and trans experience. As a person socialized in white settler culture, I want to be transparent that understand that my paradigm is shaped by that and that I don’t mean to present this as being “the truth” but simply the useful things from my experience.
This is a spell for pollination of breaking binaries and repatterning with the more accurate expansiveness of the diverse truth of gender reality.
Our diversity is our power.
I love gender. I love woman, man, masculine, feminine, butch, femme, gender queerness, and all the things that gender means. I love these things in all the variety of their presentations and combinations. Gender has been an especially strong presence to me as a trans person with a strong presence of genders in me that differ from the ones society was socializing me into.
And especially as a queer witch I have found exploring gender energies a big place I have explored energetic reality. What I want to share from these experiences is that I believe that as powerful nature energy that expresses in us, gender is ready for connection to our magic.
I am not interested in erasing or denying the existence of male, female, masculine, or feminine as a way to make space for non-binary reality. I am not interested in erasing the gender of all dieties either. Gender is a useful way to describe accurately the presence of powerful energies that exist, and a fascinating and beautiful part of life expression. What I am interested in, is freeing us up from any paradigms that might limit us from the full expanse of these energies expressing through us or through diety, and allowing for third gender reality that includes genders beyond our narratives of male and female.
Non-binary gender magic is a mystical and creative space, a third space, a middle path, and it has the magic of Center in it. Third spaces for gender are the cauldron of the multiplicity of our power.
We all benefit from this creative space as we all have a mix of genders in us, and a relationship to center and third space magic. We all have healing do to around the impact of colonization on gender in the over culture, our families and our own lives. Especially as gender is some of the most foundational energy in our world, and as it has intimate relationship to all points of all the Pentacles of the core Reclaiming classes (Love/Sex, Law/Pride, Knowledge/Self, Liberty/Power, and Wisdom/Passion are like the lunar/solar aspects of self, which relate to the energies of feminine/yin and masculine/yang).
Decolonizing gender is a great way to free up our truth and power to live more from a place of personal sovereignty. There is no right or wrong, only that we all arrive in a process of becoming more aligned with the powers of gender energies within us, and actively creating a world where we can explore this.
Gender in Ancient Energetic Traditions
As an acupuncturist and medical Qi Gong practitioner, I especially love to look to the thorough documentation of energetic reality Daoism traditions offer about gender as an energy and a natural phenomenon, where there is the recognition of the two fundamental energies of yin and yang. These polar opposites are related to the yin physical world of feminine energies and the yang celestial world of masculine energies, and we humans are part of the matrix that is woven by these two energies meeting in between. They are constantly changing into and out of one another, and being fed by their sources from the earth and the sky realms. We have a web of fascia that weaves through our bodies connecting all of its systems, as well as bridging us with the earthly and astral worlds as an extension of the mycelial network that similarly weaves interconnection in the earthly yin realm and the netting of celestial bodies in the yang realms.
Yin energy from the earth and yang energy from the celestial realms enters our bodies at points in our five fingers and five toes, as portals defined by the five elements. These are also the places where yin changes into yang constantly. We can see yin and yang as well along the lines of the shading of color of our skin tone at the edges of the inner and outer parts of our arms and legs and torso, the inner being yin and outer being yang.
The laws around them are that yin and yang come from each other, are inseparable, are opposite, and reliant on one another. These places at the fingers and toes and edge are places of most dynamic change, and are the edges where yin and yang change into one another, in a constant state of change and exchange.
In light of all this, I find it fascinating that as we have called decolonization work into witch camp stories over that past few years, we found ourselves working with mycelium and stars.
Another ancient energetic wisdom from Daoism, is that with the two base elements of yin and yang, we can create third spaces called trigrams. Going from the binary set of two to a set of three, we take a synergistic leap creatively. The Daoists say that from yin and yang, we get the eight trigrams (the eight points on the seasonal wheel) and from the eight trigrams we get the ten thousand things (everything else in the universe). From the creative cauldron of these third spaces is birthed the universe. This is like the third card of the major arcana of the tarot, Empress card, the creative power of reception and restorative alchemy that creates all things channeling through. This is the third space of queer magic.
What if I had grown up understanding masculine and feminine energies as fluid and connected to the earth and sky, all of the directions and seasons in cycles of time and space? What if we were taught we had both genders in us and combinations of these two endlessly creatively repeating?
This sounds a lot like the twin strands of a double helix of DNA endlessly repeating combinations of three base proteins. This stuff is deep in us, it is foundational.
In Daoism there is a recognition of four genders: female, male, male with female within, and female with male within. The four directions of the year are portrayed in this way, as yin within yin (winter solstice), yang within yang (summer solstice), yang within yin (spring equinox), and yin within yang (autumn equinox).
I love seeing my gender represented in an ancient tradition! It is incredibly empowering to be offered a reflection of a place in the whole. And also I love that my gender is like the point in time and space of the spring equinox, yang within yin, steeped in the wisdom of winter and emerging with a visionary catalytic energy. Folks with my gender often are very deep and wise people who bring forth a lot of visionary energy in the world as activists. It is a stereotype we have created in a longstanding lineage that radical dykes the ones who tend to care deeply about what is “politically correct” and who create most of the non-profits and co-ops, and are spearheading and tending to the whole gamet of social justice projects in the world. Ever heard the term “passing the Bechdel test?” (Referring to the comic artist and graphic novelist Alison Bechdel who documented decades of culture in her books ‘Dykes to Watch Out For’). It is not only dykes who have this gender, by the way, many people have this gender and don’t even know it because they are with men, but there are tomboys of all kinds! We have a ton of powerful poets in our community as well. In our experience we are like the waxing quarter moon, bringing the power of yin into relationship with yang, and our gender expressions do a lot to heal the divine masculine. We have a huge diversity of what it means to express powerful masculinity.
I love feeling into the autumnal equinox gender energy too, of yin within yang, steeped in the brightness of summer and bowing down to the earth with gifts. This is a time of social gathering, family reunions, and celebrations, and these folks like to party! “We are Family, I got all my sisters with me!” We see fae men in the world like this, offering a celebration of the divine feminine through dance and fashion and art and soulful devotion to life and family, wizards of the expression of beauty and love.
Traditionally us equinox folks would have roles as healers, and socially we do a lot of healing of gender by being in relationship with both in our particular ways. We bring balance and bridge energies that are oppositional and cooperative in our expressions.
I have aspects of both of these equinox genders in me, which is why the term queer has been so useful as it is a big enough umbrella to describe the gender diversity we have. I know men who have very similar gender to mine and I treasure these folks, who I refer to as honorary lesbians in my own personal queer humor. But we all know these guys, and they are not just gay men. My dad is one of them. He is a naturopath and raised us in that community, which in the 80s when it was just getting going was full of lesbians (again, they were the catalysts at the forefront of bridging traditional wise healing traditions with modern health sciences). He was the guitarist and singer for a band in our basement called “Johnny and the Dykes” with five lesbians, who I would hover around and try to impress with my tomboy ball caps and other tomboy tropes like showing off how fast I could run. He raised us on the Indigo Girls and Bonnie Raitt. The shadow side of our reality was that he was also abusive and controlling, which he would only be able to recognized 30 years later after attending a weekly men’s circle for anger management and healing his internalized misogyny. He now fully takes accountability for that, which is really rare, and also identifies himself to me as transgender (he can’t share this with many people because it is just too big of a leap for them in our current cultural reality). He recognizes that his abuse pattern was sourced from the suppression of his own gender and that he took this internalized oppression out on women and children in his life. I find it really deep to see how similar our two genders are, and how much healing we have both done to the collective gender reality with our relationships to each other and to gender.
Gender is heavily socially constructed and it is also more than just a social construct. It on some levels is a benign base nature energy we are imprinted by in different levels of our being, and something that we are pulled in affinity to from some deep intuitive place.
Learning about dynamics of gender through the study of energetic traditions has been super interesting to me as a gender queer fae butch trans masculine witch with both/many gender expressions. I have always been on the lookout for descriptions of reality that could in a way reflect my experience of having both genders, a fluidity of genders, and a combination of them or altogether outside of the two. This is what I personally call to myself the “both-and” reality that is an essential compliment to the “either/or” reality that often is presented as the only reality. I am both and neither and other genders; I live in the magic of multiplicity.
In Daoist medical qi gong, we all have three bodies (another layer of meaning of the trigrams); our physical one, our mental/emotional one, and our spiritual one. The interplay of these fields of energetic reality are another place I have found gender playing out in a huge diversity. I have always felt queer and transgender in all of these bodies; in my mind and spirit as well as my physical body. Studies show many of brain patterns of trans masculine folks like me being the same as cisgender* men (*a person born into a body that matches their gender), and I love how this is able to make my lived experience visible in western science.
These bodies are invisible yet you can feel and sense them, and they feed into the physical where they are visibalized more. We can see gender with other senses too, similarly how we sense elements and other parts of energetic reality as witches. Gender transitions are now being described in the medical system as ‘gender-affirming” changes, which I relate to. Embodying gender queerness through physical gender transitions has been a fascinating healing adventure, with intuition and the element of earth.
There is a complexity to navigating the interplay of gender between levels of emotions and thoughts, spirit, and embodiment as a gender queer person, (and maybe for many who might not yet name themselves as queer as well but who experience gender diversity on these levels). There is a medicinal flower essence that has helped me integrate this, which is calla lily. It is described by the California flower essence society, as being for people whose gender and sexuality exist more in the spiritual level than the physical. It has helped me integrate my experience into one of its own kind of wholeness and helped combat any internalized messaging that leads to a dysphoric state of incompleteness. I love how much calla lily so dramatically looks like a dramatic combination of genitals, and can attest that it really helps feel complete in a strongly trans experience. It is a very real thing to experience gender in differing ways on the these levels of body, mind/emotion, and spirit, and this is home to key parts of the diversity of gender experience.
Activity: How does gender feel for you on levels of body, mind, and spirit?
Meditate, play, and explore here
European Astrological traditions and gender
Here we find gender present in fundamental energetics alongside elements related to directions in space, seasonal cycles, and in attributes of our body, mind, and spirit.
There is a recognition of masculine and feminine gender existing in varying amounts in all of the planets and zodiac signs which ebb and flow through the seasonal cycles around the wheel of the year.
Air and fire zodiac signs are masculine energies, and earth and water signs are feminine energies (Fire being most masculine and water being most feminine).
Each elemental group of signs is divided into three modes, cardinal being the more fiery mode and more masculine, fixed being both, and mutable being more watery and feminine. (The three modes remind me of the trigrams).
With the elements and the modes we get an assortment of gender energies that make us up. We can look at our elemental makeup and find a lot of gender spectrums and archetypes related to them as a starting point to define layers of our gender diversity.
One witchy reframe I love is about queer directions and elements, found in the places between solstices and equinoxes on the seasonal wheel, the in between directional points of Imbolc, Beltain, Lammas, Samhain….we know how creative these spaces are! There are even queer elements that are made between earth, air, fire, and water. They are Mist (between earth and air), Steam (between air and fire), Smoke (between fire and water), and Mud (between water and earth).
What if we were encouraged to see our gender energies dancing in relationship inside of us from the stars, to endlessly discover their nuances that flavor our aesthetics and character and that mirror the way energy dances through the seasons and all of nature?
Where these energies play is home to third space magic and Center magic in the cauldron and crossroads that is a natal astrology chart. Each of us has an astrological birth chart, which is a snapshot of the moment of our first breath here in this middle earthly plane. Another interesting piece from Daoism that relates here is that the whole channel system I mentioned earlier that is fed by yin/earth and yang/celestial energies begins when we take our first breath. There is a deep mystery revealed in the design of this, and an astonishing accuracy to what it describes. It is a blueprint for the position in time and space of the astral bodies in relation to that moment of your manifestation.
What is interesting is that astrological crossroads are binaries, created by the polar opposite signs in our charts. Oppositional aspects in astrology are more Saturnian in nature, defining physical and structural reality by showing us challenging tensions and creative edges where we meet the limits that inform our foundations and structures. The magic of breaking binaries lives here, at our limits, where we experience the kinds of growth only found at our own edges. These places give definition to our lives as we do the work that is here of bridging the known with the unknown.
The work of breaking binaries and bridging /tending edges is queer magic, and it is decolonization magic.
Each planet and sign has a different influence in terms of gifts and challenges it brings, all of which reflects a deep mirror for the edge this person is tending for personal and collective transformation. We need to know what our binary oppositional tensions are and begin to engage consciously with what these initiators are showing us about the healing we are here to do, about the edges we are tending.
Edges are uncomfortable, and these are the fertile places where creative energy is accumulated alongside subverted power.
Doing decolonization work of every kind frees up this subverted power.
It reminds me of the edge of water, where it meets the land and is the most biodiverse area of the ecosystem; and the edge of day and night, where the dawn chorus sings the day into being. The dawn chorus is one of my favorite magical things in existence, the place where yin changes into yang. This is the moment with the highest measurable vibration in the earth. So much so that the birds and fishes begin to sing into the dark just feeling it coming, and this whole symphony of light and song transform out of the darkness of night into extra prisms of color and song near the horizon.
This gives a magical context to what we call in astrology our ‘rising sign,’ which is the constellation/zodiac sign that was at this magical horizon’s edge when we were born, and is the primary sign in our chart defining our constitutionality.
This edge of light and song is constantly revolving around the planet, literally casting us into existence in circular motion into infinity. This mirrors the flow of yang qi up our back and yin qi down our front in a microcosmic orbit, which is also constantly revolving and keeping us alive; and which is created in the first sex cell divisions that go on to create our bodies.
Magical Practice with Gender in Energetic Astrological Anatomy
There is a map of the different astrological signs transposed onto our physical body parts starting with the first zodiac sign of Aries in the head and down to the last sign of Pisces in the feet. We will feel the gender energies in these signs in the sites of the body pertaining to the signs and planets that feature strongly in our chart.
The map is: Aries: head, Taurus: neck, Gemini: lungs, Cancer: stomach, Leo: heart, Virgo: small intestine, Libra: kidneys, Scorpio: genitals, Sagittarius: thighs, Capricorn: knees, Aquarius: ankles, Pisces: feet
The planets also channel through our seven energy centers, starting with Saturn and Pluto in the root, Venus and the moon in the creative and heart centers, the sun sign and mars coming through the solar plexus, mercury in the throat, Uranus and Neptune in the third eye, and Jupiter in the crown. The planets and signs in these positions and spectrum of the gender energies they express are channeling through these energy centers and therefor intimately running in relationship to our thoughts, feelings, intuition, exertion of creativity and will power, our sexuality and our conversations with the divine.
I recommend charting your planets and signs as they line up in these centers and feeling into them to really get a sense of the embodiment of gender as part of the archetypal energies in them, find guidance and deep self discovery about layers of gender diversity here.
Explore the genders coming through these centers and aspects of your being. Meditate with them, feel into them. Invite these different aspects into conversation, and journal or make art as a part of connecting to this rich assortment of gender nature forces intimately flowing through us.
Intergenerational Gender Paradigms
The feminism of the 70s really focused on fighting for inclusion of a diversity of experiences under what it means to “be male” or “be female,” and so a lot of my mentors from this generation have been confused about why I would need to identify my experience as male rather than just being a masculine woman. I love the knowledge and power of my androgynous butch tomboy experience and also of my trans male experience, these things for me are really inseparable and just different ways of being trans. I am really unique among my trans male/masculine peers in that I also always have identified with and claimed my dyke experience, and I as a 38 year old, I straddle generations in discussion a lot of the time. This is part of the medicine of my particular kind of non binary gender in community. I don’t think there is one best way to relate to all of this, it is each of our work to uncover what is authentic for our self.
When I first discussed this with my beloved witch elder and friend Ashtare at camp, I told her that I loved having a beard and being called ‘he’ because I am a butch dyke. She paused, and responded, “well that is pretty much every woman I have dated,” and we both just laughed and have been good friends ever since and enjoy unpacking all of this stuff with curiosity. This gives me a lot of hope in a community strongly divided inter-generationally along these lines. It can really be a great conversation where we get to learn and explore together with rich experiences of gender in different times in cultural evolution and the edges we tended there. I know that the spaces fought for by second wave feminists paved the way for my freedom to explore trans and queerness. I learn from elders like Ashtare that they literally risked jail and losing their children to be a lesbian and to do work to end gender violence. I pray we get to keep our relationships as elders and descendants in the process of creating space for gender queerness and give the respect we all have earned. In recent writings in response to community conflicts around supporting trans and non binary witches in Reclaiming, Starhawk wrote something I really love:
“While second-wave feminists identified sexual and gender oppression, third-wave feminists are inclined to challenge binary gender altogether. But these differing analyses could support each other. Ideally, they should be the one-two punch to knock patriarchy on its ass. Instead of tearing our movements apart, we could challenge the allocation of power by gender and sex, identify and counter violence, and then challenge the binary altogether. We could support and affirm one another to build a world that is centered on those denigrated relational values traditionally assigned to women—caring, nurturing, taking thought for future generations, taking care of one another.”
I love you Starhawk.
I have lived many years feeling alienated because of how I didn’t fit into male and female as was assigned culturally and to the roles linked to my XX estrogen-predominant body. I felt I didn’t exist anywhere, that there was no place for me socially, that the only safe spaces were among folks like me. The erasure of my trans experience by processes of colonization has meant my life has been an archaeological dig on a very basic level to find myself in relation to gender and embodiment.
This is a very real and lonely place for folks like me who have had a predominantly non-binary gender experience. It is really hard to be the only one like you in a space time and time again, and to walk through the world that way is very lonely and requires the constant facing of fear and isolation. It feels like you don’t exist and that you are not safe to be seen and understood accurately. I have experienced feeling invisible and have literally been invisible to most people.
What people don’t have knowledge of they can’t see.
They look and speak through you, past you, around you, at you but don’t see you. I can confirm this because after taking testosterone and passing socially as more of a binary gender, people have treated me very differently in this regard. They look at me directly and call me buddy, or other friendly words that signify belonging, and they engage with me more in ways that did not happen before! I spent a long time gas lighting myself for being hard to relate to, or making up that I was experiencing erasure. Now I experience the erasure and invisibility of my non-binary dyke tomboy experience, and my knowledge from the parts of me are related to that. Being trans for me will always strongly include feeling partly visible and invisible, and this not only painful but is also a richly mysterious place to live.
On the flip side, being non-binary also makes you hyper visible, and a target for societal projections of fear and stigma onto you. This is intense because our society is still echoing with puritanical body-hating, sex-fearing, transphobic and queer-hating messaging. This is all intimately linked to the persecution of women, queers, witches and witchcraft and colonial racism. Queer and trans people not only experience erasure but are targets for the projections from these places informed by oppressive colonial cultural narratives.
Not just queers are hit hard by this, not a single person is free from the wounding impacts on gender by these colonial stigmas.
Queer, trans, and non binary folks like me have a lot of knowledge from witnessing the world from this place. Walking between the worlds of gender from a non binary paradigm, has a natural connection to moving between other invisible worlds. A silver lining to the struggles of alienation is that I have felt a deep affinity and home in the liminality of magic.
What helped me come home to my gender queerness was a distinct shift at one point, where I realized that instead of only seeing myself as having no gender and fitting in nowhere and relating to no one, that I had both genders and more, and that because of this I fit in everywhere and could connect to everyone. This is a powerful shift. Inside my experience I went from belonging nowhere and relating to no one, to belonging everywhere and relating to everyone! It has gifted me with less of the kinds of fear that are created by othering. I am inspired for more people to access as close to this experience as is possible for them, and to live with the gifts of its insights.
Experiencing the medicine found from breaking free from a binary like gender helps all other similar works of breaking out of polarized conflicts enabled by othering like race, class, ability, or even conflict over the existence of spiritual reality.
Hormones and Gender: My Journey with Testosterone and Estrogen
Hormones are a magical gender chemical, with fascinating feelings. I have been on and off of testosterone a number of times and it is always interesting to feel out the transitions between a more estrogen-predominant system and a more testosterone-predominant one. I have a unique kind of insider knowledge from belonging inside both male and female experience and at the same time being outside of them, like a visitor watching them from an intimate vantage point within them.
I feel testosterone to be grounding and focusing, uplifting and arousing. I mean this physically, I feel stronger and energized, louder and more activated, and blood flows to my genitals without having any relational reason to. This was nice after years of body dissociation! But also this gave me an intense insight into the reality of this hormone and its social implications. Beyond socially-constructed gender there is a huge amount of sex magic humming and brewing in testosterone systems, and in our sex/body-vilifying culture we see the opposite develop as this suppressed and misunderstood power comes out sideways as dissociative sexual obsession and assault. What adds to this, is the messaging as men develop that they should act like they don’t care about anything, to display a macho stoicism to show strength, which stunts their social interactions to the point that they are left with sex as the only means of connection beyond a very superficial kind. Their privileges contain a whole sack of lies that stunt and separate them, leaving them unaware of what they are missing out on as far as human connection and care, and with a deep confusion alongside their remaining unmet need for it. I see this in men who show defensiveness, judgement, and anger at other people chronically, a pattern I see in epidemic levels. The level of posturing required of men is staggering, to know everything, and to physically and mentally dominate others. These things are requirements for social survival and because so much is based on domination in white settler over culture, the level of shaming and threat or actual physical violence men experience is heartbreaking. It is normalized so much that it’s hard to interrupt it.
The salt in this wound is that we don’t even come close to recognizing the illness of colonial gendering for men and fall very short in working directly with it. In fact instead there is a collective habit of shaming, hating, blaming, and condemning men instead of looking at their patterns as internalized oppression and facing the levels of violence they experience and enact on others. Testosterone makes you feel strong and forceful, so it can lend to a need for an outlet for forceful expression, and we need to respect these energies and learn to hone them and work intentionally with them.
We have a huge dissociative collective denial around the wounding of colonization of masculinity and maleness, and neglect the necessary elements for its healing, This single area of collective neglect and denial I think has maybe the biggest effect on the health of every system of life on this planet. I have developed a lot more compassion for the entrapment of male cycles of violence through taking testosterone, and it helped bridge my own blocks to seeing the underlying humanity of men in this situation. I see their relationship with gender energies of physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual really misunderstood and the subverted power here left in a dangerous situation. I see men left out from connection, ignorant to the connections they are missing out on but deeply craving it in a state of alienated confusion and competition. I see them doing all the human things to be loved and expressed in their various kinds of awkwardness. I like them a lot more than I used to, and genuinely have a softer heart for the depth of their experience.
As it relates to my own, I will say that I have a soft heart for my own inner man. He exists whether I am adding testosterone to my system or not, but the presence of testosterone does reveal things. Its helpful attributes are that it grounds and focuses emotions and attention, giving more of a simplicity to the way the world is experienced.
One theory I have had on this, is that the whole surface of the body as well as the surface of all organs inside the body, is activated by yang qi, so in a predominantly testosterone influenced system this would be amplified, leaving a person with stronger boundaries of every kind which simplifies and buffers the relational experience. Even inside myself I felt buffered from insecurity and overwhelm, leaving me with a more straightforward simplified mental and emotional process and experience. At the same time, testosterone leads to higher levels of stimulation and activated energy that could feel too intense at times and if it didn’t have channels for movement and expression, there would be agitation, frustration, and aggression. There is so so much heat! Wow, the heat. Testosterone is an anti-depressant, and uplifts the emotions, mind, and spirit, even giving a confidence and a sense of whatever I do is great! This really explained to me the Woody Allen complex, where men will hit on women regardless if they are wearing stained baggy sweatpants and much older than her, or whatever, they just have no shame and act as if they are completely desirable. Part of this behavior of course is socially constructed as I named previously, but part of it derives from a liquid confidence from testosterone that I have distinctly felt in my own mind.
It is the opposite of how estrogen leaves me in this regard, which is noticeably more insecure as well as heavier, more overwhelmed, and depressed energetically and emotionally. I am talking about a headspace like the one PMS creates. There is an inconsistency to estrogen’s flows too. First of all, it is flowy and changeable, and seems to have such a more relational aspect to it that it seems to be highly influenced by inner, social, and environmental things to the point that it will take you on a roller coaster ride of destabilizing feelings. There is a lot of obvious challenge to this, because we live in such a product and performance-driven capitalist system that is inflexible in its structures, and so there isn’t a lot of space for these processes, and they are misunderstood and misdirected. I believe actually that they are mirrors for societal imbalance, which is really hard to carry, and these things present really physically in estrogen predominant systems as pain and heaviness or disregulation. They really are challenging, and seem pretty unfair in comparison to the simplicity of testosterone systems, but I intuit a very deep purpose for these rollercoaster rides, where they contain information about the environmental, social, and subconscious realities. There is a wisdom that comes with it, and a practical use in community for its cycles. To remain in denial of this power and gift, and to misunderstand this power is also a danger for our world.
There is a huge intuitive, creative, connective, and sexual/sensual power in estrogenic experience like an ocean with undertow. The virtues of it are that it broadens the breadth and expanse of experience, the mind and emotions spread out and connect to everything and take it in in macro and micro ways all at once with a lot of sensitivity, and with a sense of deep care, romance and sensuality, and the ability to be strongly moved by things which is really wonderful. I am not talking about socialized gender here, I am actually just trying to describe what the drug makes you feel in body, mind, and spirit and this is literally how it feels. It’s amazing these things come from hormones! They are just concentrated forms of yin and yang energies…super mysterious and fascinating.
I feel estrogen to give a big wide strength of relational experience, and the positive flip side of the heaviness that comes with it, is a solid sturdy enduring strength and power that is like a mountain or an ocean, it’s big and solid like that, as well as wave-like and fluid. It has wildness in it, and it is smart and fierce. In estrogen predominance I feel softened alongside a sensual force; romantic and artistic, prone to big swoons and swells and ripenings. It moves you in cycles with the moon. Estrogen makes me magically sensual and deep, earnest, caring, and wise, with enduring strength, and I love it.
Practicing Gender Magic in Art
(see attached video below of the drag performance)
At this point my “gaydar” is more than just for gayness, it has opened up an ability to see the multiplicity of gender in everyone; I have strongly honed ‘gen-dar.” This heightened last year after doing ritual around gender in the creation of my first drag performance. I started at Imbolc with a vision to aspect an oak tree, which led me to dance with shadow, and then the more we approached Beltaine a vision to dance as a peacock emerged to process gender multiplicity.
During this process I learned the terms anima (feminine pat of a man) and animus (masculine part of a woman) from Jungian psychology, and was fascinated to discover that mine are switched. The female part of me is really a butch tomboy and the more masculine part, and the male part of me is the part that enjoys femme. My anima and animus are gender queer! Haha. Figures. Dancing as the peacock and the peahen was a great way to dance with all of this. I made a video backdrop of myself at different ages to dance with, within which I included art pieces made by another queer non binary witch artist Fenn Leiken who I correspond with. All interactions with this piece were a magic space that led to a paradigm shift. I am now able to see even more gender multiplicity in other people as well.
I started to play with archetypes to describe these layers of gender….what I came up with for myself are an assortment of things, like I am a gogo dancer dude Valkyrie warrior dyke with grandma at the core just so sweet wanting to garden and cook and heal people with herbs and bare hands and knowing looks.
How is that for a gender? Try it!
I look at everyone through this multifaceted gender lense and it makes the world way more interesting. Seeing beyond the binary of physical gender is good for the brain and for the heart, it is a kind of spiritual awakening to humanity.
(Ok truly because the foundation of my experience is as a dyke and I love dykes so much, I also just really enjoy pretending that everyone in the world is a dyke and seeing nuances of gender that emerge.)
Prompts for Gender Art Magic:
What ways do you like gender in physical objects of the earth element like clothing? How does drag shapeshift reality? Explore drag as a magical practice
What do your anima and animus look like?
What gender layers and archetypes do you see in yourself and those around you?
How do they feel for you in the levels of mind, emotions. Body, and spirit?
What art rituals might your genders like to explore with?
What genders are alive in the archetypes in you?
Queerness in traditional pagan cultures
I have found a large range of traditional cultures from around the world that were more fluid with gender and sexuality, including European pagan ones from my blood ancestry. My memory of my first introductions to historical witchcraft as a teenager depicted people doing ritual in drag to aspect dieties of both genders and animals, and going into dark caves wearing horns to face fear and be reborn. This was one of the first times I saw gender queerness reflected to me in culture, and it was in descriptions of ritual in witchcraft. I did a report on Artemis in middle school because she really embodied this kind of aspecting to me, and as a hunting warrior goddess who was related to animals and the moon, I saw a reflection that I later learned was significant because she was a diety that looks out for butches like myself. Cupid is a trans diety, child of Hermes and Aphrodite, he is Hermaphrodite, the god of love! There are many others from many cultures around the world. I find it thrilling that as I found my way to witch camps and radical faerie gatherings, that I was very much not alone in being drawn to paganism as a queer.
I have come across some of the most hetero-normative depictions of gender in neo-pagan culture as someone who has studied and worked in areas of gardening, farming, and natural health for years alongside a lot of hippy culture. There are tons and tons of hetero-normative assumptions about what being ‘natural” means that I see as having been shaped more by colonial erasure of queerness than a way of seeing things rooted in history of living with the earth. It tickles me to no end to learn a more accurate history that debunks this.
I grew up with my own ignorant narrative about my ancestors and elders as a young queer. I literally thought that everything before the 1990s when I came out was more gender binary and that we were an evolutionary edge of culture, breaking these binaries with queerness. We may have been doing that in the current culture and in the context of colonial culture shaped by recent history, but if you go back further to pre-colonization we find that traditional cultures had way more fluidity of gender and sexuality. I am glad to be proven wrong, because it means that deep with our ancestral memory, came a rattling of these old bones of the ancient queer ones guiding us home to the truth of ourselves from an ancient place. Ancient ones know how shape-shifty and queer reality is!
Decolonizing Gender Language: Air Gender Magic
One place to start with gender decolonization is with our language. What if it didn’t even have pronouns? Many languages in the world do not have pronouns. In the context of our imperfect and inaccurate language with its conventions of gendering, using pronouns that someone has painstakingly come to know to be true for themselves is a very important part of shifting our paradigm and decolonizing gender collectively.
It heals us to use a chosen and accurate pronoun for ourselves or another person. It is awkward to do new things, but well worth it to create this kind of reality for ourselves that can acknowledges and feed an expanded diversity of gender experienced.
It is way more than just respecting someone else’s pronouns or name, it changes us in the process and the world we share, by speaking into being a new paradigm using tools of the air element.
It is vital for all of us that we understand how intimately our liberation is linked to expanding possibilities around language to align our reality with core aspects of self.
When we identify a gender, we are taught to say that ‘I am a girl” or “I am trans.” This is teaching us to identify with one thing at a time, with one gender, and to assign ourselves a noun that excludes other things in the gender category. It also teaches us to be that gender, that we “are” that gender, with an underlying assumption that you only get one gender to be and that there are only two options and that “being” one excludes its opposite. I would find it more accurate if gender was an adjective personally. My solution to this impossible language situation is to identify with as many of these gender nouns as accurately describes my experience in my body/mind/spirit and socially in the world. Given this, I am a butch, a tomboy, a queer, a genderqueer nonbinary trans man, a dyke, a straight boi. We can be all of these simultaneously.
What language accurately describes your experience? I recommend playing with all gender words to experiment with finding resonance with your full self.
If our language asks us to name our identities as nouns…”I am a man” or “I am gay,” wouldn’t it be lovely to also get to name the things that we “are” in such a fundamental way to accurately describe our experience?
I am the end of winter and the quickening, I am the crescent balsamic moon and everything seen in the dark, I am the building crack of the vision of the world awakening. I am a wolf on land and an otter in the water. I am a stag and the grasses it is standing in, and the wind that is kissing them.
We have a lot of cultural lore around “becoming a man” or “becoming a woman.” These are areas of traditional rites of passage, and I am curious that the gender of man or woman is the fundamental building block that somehow sums up what we are stepping into. What these statements are describing is about stepping into power and responsibility, stepping into the Iron Pentacle’s work of aligning with the self and the Pearl Pentacle’s work of being in right relationship in community. Does landing in one gender really sum up that arrival? As there can be power found in stepping into a lineage of gender experience, I would also hope to be able to step into the fullness of gender diversity as well, alongside other kinds of power and responsibility beyond getting more locked down to one gender as that might end up being more of a limiting trap.
What if we all got to do these rites with room for how we tend a place in a lineage of both genders inside us and for non binary genders?
You made it to the end of this huge download and opus of my queer mystic life! Thanks for reading and exploring gender magic with me!
-Bless the Bees-
About the Author:
I am an acupuncturist and holistic bodyworker, astrologer and tarot reader engaged in every day magic to heal colonial patterns of internalized oppression and trauma as expressed in our body, mind/emotions, and spirit. I grew up on Duwamish land, now known as Seattle after the Chief of the Duwamish nation that still struggles in the face of a lack of federal recognition and status despite being the colonial name given to this city. I also name Nisqually territory as a home for a third of my life, in what is now know as Olympia Washington. I am now home as a visitor and a settler in the unceded lands of the Lekwungen speaking people of the Esquimalt and Songhess Nations. I am a riot squirrrl, acupunk, mystic. I am many things and none and beyond. In love and revolution, in the spirit of breaking colonial patterns for our liberation.