Duality and Diversity: a Response


“Realize that bodies are only a fraction of who we are
They're just oddly-shaped vessels for hearts
And honestly, they can barely contain us…”
- Gabe Moses (From How to Make Love to a Trans Person)

I love human bodies: large, small, male, female, neither, both. And yet, as Gabe Moses writes in the gorgeous poem I recommend you read the whole of, they are only a portion of what makes up our whole: we are also mind, emotion, spirit, love, sex, gender, animal, anger, flexibility, and hope.

I am awake when I ought to be sleeping, because I feel troubled by this rift, that - even in trying to find ways to speak about it - seems to only grow larger. Hopefully, our understanding will also grow large someday.

We are complex beings, just as the cosmos is complex. I am awake because in writing the article Duality and Diversity, in trying to speak of my own experiences of gender - the strangeness of which began for me in my childhood - and of some of what went on this last Pantheacon, I stepped on some landmines, and perhaps hurt or angered some of my brothers and sisters. Tricky stuff, gender. Tricky stuff, diversity. Tricky stuff, privilege.

Yes, I write as a person with cissexual privilege. This colors my view of the world. When I stand up with my trans allies, I try to learn a little more each time. There are always things for me to learn.

Yes, I write as a person with cissexual privilege. This causes me to misstep sometimes with those who do not share in that privilege. I make mistakes. I fumble. I keep trying.

Yes, I write as a person with cissexual privilege. My gender, however, is fluid. That lack of a binary gender, I will not let another take away from me. While some people may hold ends of the broad spectrum of male or female, masculine or feminine, I am somewhere in the vast between. My gender is mutable, lovely, and strange.

As I spoke on a panel at the Florida Pagan Gathering, of which the people of this blog transcribed this portion:

In The Book of the Law, Nuit says, ‘I was divided for love’s sake for a chance of union.’  In that way polarity is really important; it’s an important teacher to us.  I talk about this a lot in my second book, Kissing the Limitless,  this thought that God Herself, Star Goddess, is the fabric of all; and in a way she is pre-gender.  And then there are the Divine Twins, that division.  And really that can be any polarity: hot-cold, day-night, male-female, active-receptive.  My hope is we shift more toward working a whole range of polarities, knowing that really we’re all really a part of the fabric of everything, and that the beauty of our work as magic-workers, as witches, as shamans, is to bring the poles back together into a new form, creating a new being and a new culture with each other.  That’s my hope.

That is my reality. It may not reflect the reality of some of you reading.
And I am still left with this question:

How do we humans balance inclusion and diversity without turning into a homogeneous melting pot or actively practicing discrimination? If I believe that the cosmosphere needs diversity, how do we foster a healthy diversity, rather than a divergence that tears us apart?

My way is to attempt welcome as many people as feel called, to practice with me and to share their work. My way is to listen to as many different stories as I am able. My way is to keep practicing.

My apologies to those whom my article caused hurt or gave offense. I will keep attempting to learn to be a better ally in our struggle for equality and freedom.

We stand in a time of great change. May we learn to navigate these changes with greater and greater strength, compassion, and flexibility.

I hope our communities keep thinking and talking. May we open for love's sake, for a chance of union.

7 Responses to “Duality and Diversity: a Response”

  1. Peter Dybing

    Ten days ago I made the decision to not comment on this issue until the community transitioned to a dialogue that reflected our communities love, trust and concern for the feelings of all. Yes, I new that as emotions faded and the community focused on the real issues at hand we would make this transition. Yes, this is an important issue that needs to be discussed. Yes, this issue is difficult to address. As you and others have led this discussion towards debate that focuses on a compassionate approach, I am reminded of all that I love about our Pagan community.

    Thank You

  2. Vivienne Grainger

    I too am cissexual, and straight bland/vanilla on top of it. But even though those traits may make anything I have to say suspect, I have hope that someday, those who were born female will come to respect that choosing to be female is a vast and incredibly courageous step to take. Let us honor those who took it as sisters.

  3. Shannon Moore

    Peter, words and actions of wisdom. I and others would benefit from following your example.

    T, thanks for sticking your neck out on this one. I wish people would focus more on the 95% of common cause. But as Peter reminds us, that is hard for people with fresh wounds.

  4. Kari Klassen

    Thorn, I am not sure how you could avoid offending someone in this discussion. From a “community” that used to refer to itself as “Gay” and often “Queer” we have divided and divided and divided ourselves into smaller and smaller groups and this seems very important to some on the road to self discovery. Self differentiation. I come from a country (Canada) that finds it important to differentiate itself from the U.S. The Big Everything. Back in university sociology class we celebrated the difference between the U.S. and Canada by saying we are a Cultural Mosaic, as opposed to the American Melting Pot, and we celebrate diversity. Sounds good on paper and in some ways it is true and in some ways it isn’t.

    I have been told on a few occasions that I see the world through pink lenses–and I do. I take pride in my differences. I am a lesbian. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with the label cissexual or trans, because I am not sure I would fit neatly into either. I find formal occasions to be nightmares I avoid because I don’t know what the hell to wear as I wouldn’t feel comfortable in either formal wear polarity and finding something “in between’ is difficult and often frowned upon.

    It is still important to me and my growth as a person to differentiate myself from the mainstream and inspired by your post I am going to have to think about why.

    Perhaps this need to differentiate is a a product of evolution on a macro level. Perhaps this is an important phase in leaving behind the mentality of the repressed generations before us where we bowed to authority and didn’t do a lot of identifying the Emperor as buck naked. We were tired of being told who we were and what we needed to become.

    Maybe, as usual, you are just a little ahead of your time, Thorn. I can totally see and understand your vision, much as, for the moment, I feel anxious about hanging on to my differences. My differences have been an important teachers to me. That being said, I think you speak the truth.

    What I have always appreciated about you is that you have always held yourself accountable for what you say, have had the courage to say “I don’t know” and I know you truly do love everyone of every size, shape, orientation, gender, stripe, etc. You do take on the tough stuff.

    Please continue to do so.


  5. Thorn

    Thanks all.

    Shannon, I sure don’t like sticking my neck out, yet I seem to be doing it with greater and greater frequency.

    I would still like to see conversations address my questions about what we do with diversity of practice. Hopefully that will come.

  6. MF

    To answer your question, we mustn’t exclude due to hatred or a feeling of superiority, thus entitlement, over another identity.

    We are allowed to exclude. We do it all the time in many ways. We exclude if we invite one Goddess into our circle, and not another. We don’t need to invite them all in. The other Goddesses don’t need to feel jealous, for they are still loved, but they aren’t pertinent to what we are doing now. They don’t qualify, in the same way that I don’t qualify to be on the Pro Golf tour, nor to claim that I’m a Doctor. Nor the same way that I’m not one you’d call to have help in making Origami because I have no knowledge of that area, and certainly you wanted ask me to speak on the reflections of a black man in Idaho, because I’m neither black nor in Idaho.

    We ought to feel free to exclude. But we ought to act out of love. And we ought to be open to each other, but not blindly following.

    But I will feel free to exclude myself from associating with people who are excluding out of hate–hate of color, race, religion, gender and more.


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