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Throughout most branches of Wicca, all sexual orientations including homosexuality are considered healthy and positive, provided that individual sexual relationships are healthy and loving[1]. Sexual orientation is therefore not considered an issue. Although Gerald Gardner, a key figure in Wicca, was arguably homophobic [2] this historical aversion is not now commonly held. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are almost always welcomed in individual communities, covens, study groups, and circles. Many LGBT Neopagans were initially attracted to Neopagan religions because of this inclusion, in which their relationships are seen on an equal footing.

In support of this philosophy, many Wiccans cite the Charge of the Goddess, which says "All acts of Love and Pleasure are My rituals".[3] Therefore all forms and expressions of sexuality, as long as they are otherwise healthy and consensual, are accepted.

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LGBT issues in Gardnerian practice

Anti-homosexuality

Gardnerian Wicca and other more traditional groups form their covens from male-female pairs.[citation needed] This practice may stem from the influence of Gerald Gardner who wrote (ostensibly quoting a witch, but perhaps in his own words):

The witches tell me 'The law always has been that power must be passed from man to woman or from woman to man, the only exception being when a mother initiates her daughter or a father his son, because they are part of themselves' (the reason is that great love is apt to occur between people who go through the rites together.) They go on to say: 'The Templars broke this age-old rule and passed the power from man to man: this led to sin and in doing so it brought about their downfall.'[4]

However, The above quote is in the context of a section in Gardner's book examining why the Templar were executed by the Christian Church, so it is entirely possible that the reference is not to Gardner's own opinion of homosexuality but that of earlier Christians. Gardner goes on to defend the Templar by saying that the charges against them were "trumped up". Gardner was rumored to be homophobic by Lois Bourne, one of the High Priestesses of the Bricket Wood coven:

Gerald was homophobic. He had a deep hatred and detestation of homosexuality, which he regarded as a disgusting perversion and a flagrant transgression of natural law....'There are no homosexual witches, and it is not possible to be a homosexual and a witch' Gerald almost shouted. No one argued with him[5].

However, the legitimacy of Gardner's rumored homophobia is disputable because Gardner showed much more evidence of an open and accepting attitude about practices in his writing which would not be characterized by the hatred or phobia which was common in the 1950s:

Also, though the witch ideal is to form perfect couples of people ideally suited to each other, nowadays this is not always possible; the right couples go together and the rest go singly and do as they can. Witchcraft today is largely a case of "make do".[6]

Most traditional Wiccans worship the god and goddess,[7] and a central part of Wiccan liturgy involves the Great Rite;[8] an act of actual or symbolic ritual sexual intercourse between the two deities. This is traditionally carried out by a priest and priestess who have had the deities invoked upon them, and the conventional practice appears to be exclusively heterosexual. When performed 'in token' this involves the athame (representing the masculine principle) descending into the chalice (representing the feminine).[9] However, there is no evidence to suggest that a gay priest or lesbian priestess could not carry out this ritual for the sake of what it represents.

Pro-homosexuality

In support of this philosophy, many Wiccans cite the Charge of the Goddess, which says "All acts of Love and Pleasure are My rituals".[10] Therefore all forms and expressions of sexuality, as long as they are otherwise healthy and consensual, are accepted.

According to Ann-Marie Gallagher, a professor of women's studies and long-time author of many books related to Wicca, "there is no moralistic doctrine or dogma other than the advice offered in the Wiccan Rede... The only 'law' here is love... It matters not whether we are gay, straight, bisexual or transgendered - the physical world is sacred, and [we are] celebrating our physicality, sexuality, human nature and celebrating the goddess, Giver of ALL life and soul of ALL nature."[11]

In addition, since Wicca focuses on the importance of male-female polarities, it's acceptance of homosexuals is focused on the view that homosexual individuals embody (spiritually) aspects of both polarities. A view similar to that of the Native American tradition of Two-Spirited individuals.

More recent beliefs and practice

According to the Pagan Federation of Canada: 'Over the last few decades, many people have thought that the emphasis on male/female polarity in Wicca excludes homosexuals'.[12] However, this source goes on to make the case for the validity of LGBT orientations even within traditional Wicca, suggesting that gay men and lesbians are likely to be particularly alive to the interplay of the masculine and feminine principles in the Universe.

Historically, the Christian church and lay-people have believed that more women than men are involved in paganism and witchcraft, which can be seen as far back as 1487 with the printing of the Malleus Maleficarum[13] Several modern authors of Wiccan books state that, in current Wicca, the situation is the same.[14][15]

An exception is Dianic Wicca (also known as Feminist Witchcraft and/or Feminist Spirituality), a branch of Wicca practiced almost exclusively by women, most of whom are heterosexual, preferring to practice their spirituality with other women in pursuit of Women's Mysteries. Some Dianics, of course, are lesbians, just as there are lesbians in other Wiccan denominations. Dianic Wiccans worship a goddess but not the god, and form female-only covens, for the most part. There are some mixed-gender Dianics, specifically the McFarland Dianics, who practice in either all female or mixed-gender circles, and who may or may not include the god in their workings.[citation needed]

Since the nineteen eighties, a number of all-male or "Mithraic" circles have been formed. These masculist circles worship both the god and the goddess, but tend to emphasise the role of the god in their lives. It is thought that these circles may have been formed In response to Dianic Wicca.

Homosexual members within traditional Wiccan groups

Many of the more traditional Wiccan groups maintain both the emphasis on male-female pairings and an acceptance of homosexuality.[citation needed]

Often this is justified by arguing that male-female pairings are an important part of reproduction and, as such, are of central importance to a fertility religion (which traditional Wicca is, though some later forms of Wicca are not). However many traditional Wiccans hold that they can venerate this generative aspect of heterosex without claiming it is the only valid form of sexual expression, but rather venerating it as a vital part of aspect without which nobody would exist (including the LGBT community) and there would be no food for anyone (including the LGBT community) to eat.[citation needed]

Indeed, since no form of Wicca has ever made claims that sexuality should only be in the pursuit of reproduction the claim of such traditionals is there is no conflict between someone venerating the generative aspects of sex even if that does not relate directly to their own sexual experience.[citation needed]

Gay- and lesbian-oriented traditions

Dianic Wicca is a religion that welcomes lesbian pagans and celebrates their perspectives on feminism, sexism, and women's empowerment within patriarchal culture. However, many Dianic covens exclude transgender people, being solely for womyn-born-womyn. [16]

Although not specifically Wiccan, one branch of traditional Witchcraft has provided a home for many Neo-Pagan LGBT men and women. The Feri Tradition is very open to all sexual orientations and some sources encourage bisexuality during rituals to reach states of ecstasy. The Feri Tradition should not be confused, however, with other spiritual traditions bearing the name Faery (including the Radical Faeries as well as branches of Wicca that focus on fairy/faery lore.)

Faery Witch covens of gay men only have been formed and are readily accepted among the larger group of Faery Witches. Both heterosexual and LGBT couples are married and handfasted in Faery Witch ceremonies every year.

The Minoan Brotherhood was founded in 1977 in New York by Edmund Buczynski, an elder in the Gardnerian, WICA and New York Welsh Traditions, in order to create a Craft tradition for gay and bisexual men--one that would celebrate and explore the distinctive mysteries unique to men who love men.[17] The Minoan Sisterhood was founded as the Women's counterpart to the Brotherhood soon thereafter by Lady Rhea and Lady Miw-Sekhmet in collaboration with Buczynski, based on his work with the Brotherhood. Legitimate Minoan initiations and elevations are all conducted in same-sex only circles. Both traditions continue to this day. The Brotherhood and Sisterhood are oath-bound, initiatory mystery religions which use a ritual framework descended from Gardnerian Wicca.

The Brotherhood of the Phoenix was founded in the summer of 2004 by seven gay men from diverse traditions such as ceremonial magic, shamanism, and pre-Gardnerian witchcraft in order to create an ecumenical Neopagan tradition which serves the community of men who love men. The mandate of the Brotherhood is to help gay, bisexual, and transgender men overcome the burden of societal labels. The Brotherhood rejects the limiting beliefs and prejudices of modern culture and religions that preach intolerance and hate. Instead of didactic teaching, they stress a simple Neopagan principle: "Find the Divine within your own experience." To impart this principle, they hold public rituals near the eight common holidays of Neopagan tradition where they celebrate the embodiment of the gay male divine through the life-cycle of human experience.

There is another predominantly gay group called the Radical Faeries, which emphasizes queer spirituality. Certain branches are exclusively focused on gay male spirituality; others are open to all genders and orientations.

Other gay traditions include the Triad Brotherhood (Hectite Tradition), and the Green Man Tradition.

Deities whose realms may be associated with LGBT

Many Neopagan gods and goddesses are seen as bisexual or gay. The Neopagan pantheon includes many gay themes. A few of them are:

  • Zeus, the Greek King of the gods, had affairs with both women and men, such as Ganymedes.
  • Astarte, the Great Mother. Her temple staff included a caste of gay male priests called the kelabim.
  • Pan, the patron god of shepherds and god of nature, is famous for his sexual prowess with both maidens and shepherds. Pan is also reported to have had relationships with younger, teenage boys.
  • Inanna had a creature neither male nor female rescue her from the underworld, named Asushunamir. This is sometimes regarded as the origin of the queer ones.
  • Apollo has often been seen as bisexual, as he has been associated with the hyacinth (the traditional flower symbolic of homosexuality). He may have also been sexually involved with a man bearing that same name (Hyacinthus) in Greek myth. See Apollo and Hyacinthus
  • Erzulie Freda, Haitian Vodou goddess of love, beauty and luxury; homosexual men are under her particular patronage.
  • Erzulie Dantor, Haitian Vodou goddess is the protector of mothers and children; lesbian women are associated with her. She is bisexual herself but prefers the company of women.

Also, Artemis and Hestia were specifically virgin goddesses, possibly implying asexuality.

In addition, the Feri Tradition teaches about the Divine Twins, who often appear as a sexually active same-gendered pair, as well as of "the Blue God",[18] a queer (and often androgynous) deity associated with snakes and with spring.

See also

References

  1. ^ The Wicca Bible, Anne-Marie Gallagher
  2. ^ Gardner, G.B., Witchcraft Today, p.75, London:Rider, 1954
  3. ^ Gardner, Gerald. Witchcraft and the Book of Shadows (2004) Edited by A.R.Naylor. Thame, Oxfordshire: I-H-O Books, p.70. ISBN 1-872189-52-0
  4. ^ Gardner, Gerald. Witchcraft Today (1954) London: Rider. p. 69
  5. ^ Bourne, Lois Dancing with Witches. (2006) London: Robert Hale. ISBN 0-7090-8074-3. p.38. (Hardback edition first published 1998).
  6. ^ Gardner, Gerald. Witchcraft Today (1954) London: Rider. p. 125
  7. ^ Farrar, Janet; Farrar, Stewart (1989). The Witches' God: Lord of the Dance. London: Hale. p. 170-171. ISBN 0-7090-3319-2. OCLC 59693966. 
  8. ^ Farrar, Stewart. What Witches Do: A Modern Coven Revealed (1973) London: Sphere Books. pp85-94.
  9. ^ Crowley, Vivianne. Wicca: The Old Religion in the New Age (1989) London: The Aquarian Press. ISBN 0-85030-737-6 p.234
  10. ^ Gardner, Gerald. Witchcraft and the Book of Shadows (2004) Edited by A.R.Naylor. Thame, Oxfordshire: I-H-O Books, p.70. ISBN 1-872189-52-0
  11. ^ Gallagher, Ann-Marie (2005). The Wicca Bible: the Definitive Guide to Magic and the Craft. New York: Sterling Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4027-3008-5. OCLC 61680143. 
  12. ^ Huneault, Robert.Homosexuality and Wicca. Pagan Federation/Fédération Païenne Canada website, accessed 11 May 2007. [1]
  13. ^ M. Summers (trans.) (1971), The Malleus Maleficarum of Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger, Courier Dover Publications, p. 47, ISBN 0486228029 
  14. ^ Murphy-Hiscock, Arin (2006), The Way of the Green Witch, Provenance Press, xii, ISBN 159337500X 
  15. ^ Zell-Ravenheart, Oberon (2004), Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard, Career Press, p. 24, ISBN 1564147118 
  16. ^ Adler, Margaret (2006). Drawing down the moon: witches, Druids, goddess-worshippers, and other pagans in America. Penguin Books. pp. 126. 
  17. ^ Aburrow, Yvonne (2007-06-21). "Wicca". glbtq.com. http://www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/wicca.html. Retrieved 2007-08-16. 
  18. ^ the BlueGod... online shrine

Further reading

  • Barrett, Ruth (2003), « Lesbian Rituals and Dianic Tradition » in Ramona Faith Oswald (ed), Lesbian Rites: Symbolic Acts and the Power of Community. The Haworth Press.
  • Conner, Randy P. Blossom of Bone – Reclaiming the Connections between Homoeroticism and the Sacred (1993). San Francisco: Harper.
  • Conner, Randy P., Sparks, David Hatfield, and Sparks, Mariya (1997), Cassell’s Encyclopedia of Queer Myth, Symbol and Spirit. London and New York: Cassell.
  • Ford, Thomas Michael (2005), The Path of the Green Man: Gay Men, Wicca and Living a Magical Life. New York: Citadel Press.
  • Kaldera, Raven (2002), Hermaphrodeities, the Transgender Spiritual Workbook. Xlibris Corporation.
  • Moon, T. (2005). Spirit Matters IV: Ten Queer Spiritual Roles. San Francisco Bay Times.
  • Penczak, Christopher (2003), Gay Witchcraft: Empowering the Tribe. Newburyport (MA): Weiser Books.
  • Rodgers, B (1995), The Radical Faerie Movement: A Queer Spirit Pathway. Social Alternatives, 14:4 pp 34-37.

External links








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