Reclaiming’s Principles of Unity state that “We include those who honor Mysterious Ones, Goddesses, and Gods of myriad expressions, genders, and states of being, remembering that mystery goes beyond form”. Language is fluid, ever changing and ever evolving and the language of inclusion seems to change almost daily.
The Spiral Dance and Reclaiming hold that those most affected by oppression and bigotry should have the most prominent position in naming their needs, expressing their lived experiences and shaping language that creates safety and tolerance. Below, Kerrick, speaks about Reclaiming’s efforts to expand our definition of the Divine.
“The modern Goddess movement owes its existence, in large part, to the desire of many women to see themselves reflected in expressions of the Divine. This is as it should be; the Divine excludes no one. In Reclaiming we recognize that gender is experienced in many ways by many different people, and we honor each person’s right to live as the people we are, whatever gender we experience ourselves to be.
Goddess worship assuredly dates back to prehistory, and reverence for Divine figures who were not strictly male or female dates back at least to ancient Sumer. People of pagan faiths the world over have struggled over the role of transgender and intersex people in their societies throughout history. While transgender women had a holy and sacred role in the worship of the Goddess in ancient times, in some pagan groups today, transgender women are excluded from Her worship, or excluded from worshiping Her as women, because of the fact that they are transgender. By including this new verse in the Goddess Invocation, we state that transgender people are of the Goddess, just as much as non-transgender women and men.
This solution, however, is not a perfect solution. It still leaves invisible transgender men (men who were assigned female at birth) who might prefer to be included in the God Song, and it leaves invisible a
segment of our community who don’t experience their gender as either woman or man, but something else entirely. In fact, it leaves unspoken a Mystery that is close to my heart–that of the Sacred Third Gender Divine, the many Deities who go largely unacknowledged in contemporary paganism who are neither Gods nor Goddesses, but androgynous, intergender, intersex, genderqueer, Mysterious Ones–ranging from the genderless Kurgarru and Galatur of ancient Sumer who rescued Inanna from Death, through Swaitowid the Polish Deity of two male and two female faces, through Ardhanarisvara the bi-gendered incarnation of Siva, to modern expressions of the Genderqueer Sacred Fool. Even Loki had his day in drag.
Transgender women are women, no matter the sex on their birth certificates or their anatomy or how they look to others. They are women who honor the Goddess, women who honor the God, and women who honor the Sacred Third. Transgender men are men, no matter the size of our dicks or whether or not we still have breasts. We are men who honor the Goddess, men who honor the God, and men who honor the Sacred Third. Being Third Gender is something else—some transgender people also identify as Third, but not all. Some Third Gender people are transgender, or intersex, or genderqueer, and some don’t outwardly appear gender variant at all. When we are Third, we are sacred beings who honor the Goddess, sacred beings who honor the God, and sacred beings who honor the Sacred Third. In honoring the Sacred Third, as when we honor the Goddess and God, we are in the good company of an infinite variety of people of all gender identities and expressions who are our companions in the Mystery.
It’s my dream to see space made for all of these holy constellations of gender and Divinity in Reclaiming, and contemporary paganism more broadly. Along the path to that day I gratefully dance in honor of the Goddess and the God and the Sacred Third as a man, as a queer man, as a transgender man of female history, as a third-gender person, and as myself, Kerrick, who is all these things.”