Basically, there has been a growing call on my life towards initiation in the Wiccan/Pagan path that I have been walking, one that is dual with and inextricably wound around with my Christian faith as well. My pagan friends refer to the call to initiation not quite jokingly as getting "hit with the Oak branch"; as in Divinity swatting you upside the head and saying, pay attention, this is what you are called to do! It's been pretty apparent through many things, but in particular these dreams that I have been smacked pretty hard. And this is not something that you ignore forever.
Since having these dreams, I have spoken with several members of my community - the Back Porch Priestess, Dreamweaver, Priestess, and my Wiccaplace community. A point that has been raised from several different directions and in several different ways is "What is my connection to the Goddess as a woman who is going to initiate as Priest of the God?" In the third dream there is a moment of connection to the Goddess, the Divine Feminine, but the direct connection has been with Deity as Male, as the Lord of the Forest, ,Cernunnos and even beyond that, with Christ, who embodies this for me. But if I - as an androgynous transgender male and a lesbian butch female initiate in a dual God/Goddess tradition, that brings me to this question: what is my relationship as a man called to Priesthood with the Female Divinity, to the Goddess?
I was raised in the Christian faith. I still am a Christian. For me the two paths - Wicca and Christian are intertwined and bound inextricably together. So I did start out with the concept of Divinity as male, certainly, growing up in the church. But it did not take very long - somewhere in my early teenage years to come upon the idea -independently, on my own - that "God" was simply far bigger than anything that human words could describe. That even in "inspired" scripture, the idea of God the Father was simply a verbal picture that struggled to try to communicate relationship with God. So my image of Divinity grew beyond the idea of an "old man with a beard" that was pictured in art and in books for children. And the more I read, over the years, the more I saw in the Bible that there were as many feminine images contained of Deity as there were male. I was given Starhawk's "The Spiral Dance" when I was in college and was confronted there with the idea of Feminine Divinity that went far beyond the glimpses I had caught...but those glimpses. those sightings had already opened my mind and heart to a much larger world of possibility than anything I would find in the narrow barriers of the conservative church I grew up in. And I kept reading. History. Archeology. Art. And the more I read over the years the more it seemed as though the hint of the Goddess I saw shining through the pages of the Bible - censored, edited out and all but obliterated grew more and more evident.
Another very important book in this literary quest of mine was Riane Eisler's "The Chalice and the Blade", which looked at the rise of patriarchy, the existence of cultures that were gylanic and egalitarian that predated patriarchy and the existence of the Goddess as the Imprimatur of these cultures. Merlin Stone's book, "When God was a Woman" was another milestone, seriously delving into archeology and looking at the evidence and the record without the lens of patriarchal narratives blinding the interpretation. Finally, as I delved into the Bible itself, and into the original Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic and Chaldean - clumsily, as I do not remotely claim scholarship in those languages! - the very words themselves revealed Feminine Divinity - El Shaddai, with its link to the image of a woman's breast, Hokmah in the Hebrew and Sophia in the Greek - the Goddess of Wisdom who has existed from the beginning of time with God. The very Holy Spirit herself in the New Testament, carefully kept Gender neutral in the churches, scarcely more than a blind force that ministers barely speak of - the Greek for the Holy Spirit is Feminine Gendered!
Is there, in the Bible, a lost duality - a Goddess denied? Or does "God" simply transcend male or female - having aspects of both. In the book of Genesis, in the earliest version of the Creation story in chapter one, God is mention in the plural - "let us make man in our image", and goes on to say that we were created "male and female"...the implications are that God is perhaps more than "one" and that male and female are both found in divinity if they are found in human beings. The Spirit of God is said to move upon the face of the chaos before Creation, calling forth light and order - the Creatrix, the Feminine that is with Creator since before the foundation of the world?
She is named Hokmah, Sophia, Spirit...she is also named Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Innana, Freyja, Shakti, Hathor, Rhiannon, Rhea, Maat, the Morrigan...the list goes on. And I cannot doubt her existence. her duality, her individuality that is just as much a part of the One Who is the ground of All Being as "God", the male image of God is.
So, as I follow this path through to initiation, I will be becoming a Priest in this tradition. A Priest...not a Priestess. It is very clear from my dreams that this is how this is expressed in my life, as a male Priest for the God. So what is the relationship of a Wiccan Priest to the Goddess?
What is my relationship personally to the Goddess in the role of a Male Priest? To the Divine as Feminine? As I said above, my identity - or perhaps, identities - are as a transman and as a butch lesbian. This is significant and I need to speak of it for a minute, to be able to continue these thoughts. FtMs (Female to Male) transgenders generally are men in women's bodies. That takes a moment to think about. In reading and researching the subject, one of the most consistent points that is brought up is that FtMs are not comfortable in the lesbian community. Outer form to the contrary, they ARE NOT WOMEN. Many of them pass through the GLBT community on their way to transitioning. And they are poor fits as Lesbians. Lesbians, even butch ones, are NOT men. So this is something that makes me very different, in that I do feel comfortable as a lesbian woman. Its why I claim androgyny. claim both. (and anybody who wants to discuss labels, labeling and post modern narratives, go read my blog post "Pardon Me: Your Umbrella is Leaking- A Transgender Moment in Time", tagged "Transgender" and comment there!) There have been some who can only see the male in me, and there is some argument for that - it is my male "persona" that I am most comfortable with...I dress and present as male. I feel about a foot taller in my head than I actually am, and I can fool people very well when I cross dress in male drag. I am totally uncomfortable presenting as female - wearing feminine clothes absolutely makes me miserable. So it is not surprising that most people at a glance see the guy that I am and not the woman as well. My friends who are close to me know the woman...that I am tender, intuitive, verbally oriented and expressive in ways that are distinctly feminine. In fact, Hokmah, the Goddess of Wisom contained within the Old Testament is probably the aspect of the Goddess that finds expression in that intuition in me. Put a newborn baby in my arms and I turn very maternal. To absolute mush, actually. When I lived attempting to conform totally to the feminine image that society and the church require of me in my conservative upbringing, I was desperately unhappy...I cannot express that enough. But to see me as only male, to transition to one in totality, would be I feel, to lose and deny the feminine that is equally as important within me even though it may not be as evident.So, the ways I might relate to the Goddess as a woman are there...as a mother in maternal feeling, in tenderness, in intuition. And there are plenty of strong warrior Goddesses that I relate to very well as a butch lesbian. Warrior Goddesses rock! But I will be initiating as the male transman - as a Priest. How does the male priest relate to the Goddess? Perhaps...perhaps as one who would serve her - not in a servile way, but in one who takes an oath - archaic language here, but it fits - of fealty, in loyalty, love and duty. A knight with her favor on my sleeve. Perhaps as the lover in the great rite - certainly if the God and Goddess are in all of us - and they are , see Carl Jung and the anima/animus that all people carry - as my Dreamweavers lover I am God to her Goddess, Lord to her Lady. Perhaps - and this is a new thought for me - as a Priest who can minister as one who knows both sides because of my unique juxtapositions of identities and how they are formed. I have already Priested several Circles as a Priest, to Dreamweavers Priestess. There is a deep feeling of reverence and connection to the Goddess in those moments, to the divinity that exists in every woman that I respond to as a male. The Winter Solstice Circle we ran together was a joy, in every way, for me...it honored the male sense I have of myself, it honored the connection I have to the God, the desire I have to minister - to be a conduit for the sacred into this world. And it was a joy to be in the presence of Female Divinity, the Goddess, without Her being denied, bound, repressed or diminished. It felt balanced, whole to be in that position, Priest to Priestess, in the Presence of Deity as both Male and Female. Perhaps the role I feel as a male Priest of the God is to be a part of that balance, that other half...a balance I experience as a whole daily as one whose innerself contains male and female.
As a Priest - with definitely a quirky take on things! - I wish to serve the Goddess as any man wishes to serve the divine within any woman...with love, honor, loyalty and courage. And perhaps that is the best way to express it in the end. I am sure that this is not the last post I will make on the subject, as I begin to move towards initiation and have conversations with my community and my Priestess and with Dreamweaver. But this is a good place to start.