Transgender Elevation of the Ancestors Rite

I’ve felt pressured from a couple corners to say something about this.

I think the whole thing is quite lovely, and a beautiful idea, but I really don’t think I have anything to say about it that hasn’t already been said better by others.

The thing is, I don’t like most trans people, on an individual basis, so except for the occasions where being trans has also intersected with my spirituality in a meaningful way, I try to avoid the topic on this blog, if only to discourage other trans people, who I’m likely to dislike, from finding this blog. That said, I have not always been successful in avoiding the topic of trans people when it doesn’t specifically overlap with my own spirituality, and I’ve got a handful of trans people who seem to think I Trans Polytheist better than Raven Kaldera, who I guess all missed the fact that I actually agree with him on many points they seem to find distasteful when HE says it (maybe the fact that I’m unabashedly feminine gives me a bit of leeway from certain sl/activists who think it’s not actually patronising to hold the words out of my mouth and/or keyboard to a lower standard than they would hold someone who is, for all intents and purposes, apparently more “butch”?) That said, there are also a fair number of trans people whom I do like, but in all honesty, many [read: not all] of them are only “trans” in the broadest definitions, or are those weirdo apolitical non-binary types who don’t give a crap about whether or not neologue pronouns ever enter the common parlance. The combination of generally-binary trans men, alt-pronoun-using non-binary folk, and politic-thumping trans women I actually get on well enough with to call real friends can be counted on one hand, and at least one of those people only qualifies under one of those descriptives by just barely. Multiply that by three or four and you’ve probably got the number of such combined trans people I get on well enough with to talk to regularly. Yeah, truth be told, I really don’t like most trans people on an individual basis, nor am I a big fan of the idea that trans people be given more leeway cos they’re trans –if anything, being trans, myself, I hold other trans people to a higher standard and thus expect better of them.

…but here’s the thing: I still support the right of people to prefer and be referred to with whatever pronouns they so choose, I still agree with the politic-thumpers on ideology, and… Actually, most of the generally-binary trans men I’ve met, in-person or in-real-life, are fucking dudebros and either the most repulsive endorsers of staunch gender-normativity and/or the most pathetic examples of eat-it-and-have-it syndrome who think it’s their gods-given right to be recognised as being uncomplicatedly “male” in every walk of life except when and where they feel entitled to LBQ women’s spaces, even if it means that trans women will be excluded from said spaces “cos [phantom] penis” even when we’ve got FT-douchebags like MRA Tony Barretto-Neto, the post-phallo trans man who attended Michfest, SHOWERED IN THE COMMUNAL SHOWERS and STILL asserts it was his right to do so —so fuck them, and let them die in a fire, just cos they’re “trans, too!” doesn’t mean they have a right to their uninformed and patently harmful views.

I’m still undecided on whether or not I’m going to participate in this Ancestor Elevation ritual even one day of it, but at the same time, I recognise that a lot of people need to do this, and I support their right to. It’s not about me, and while it’s mostly about elevating our beloved dead, it’s not JUST about that, either (a point I think often gets lost when polytheists talk about how “it’s not about Us, it’s about the Gods, Ancestors, and Spirits”); it’s also about those still living who need to forge that connection in a meaningful way with the deceased members of a community they seek the most meaning in connecting with.

It’s like one of the comments I caught hell for on Tumblr a few months ago, a comment I still stand behind: If you’re asexual-identified and worshipping Eros, why? What are you getting out of it? While Sex isn’t ALL that Eros is, it’s such a HUGE part, it strikes me as being like that pacifist who came onto the old Hellenistai forum wanting to know how to take the War out of worshipping Ares (and then, foolishly, insisted that “refusing to fight is a kind of warfare” –no, no it’s not). I’ve no doubt that at least some of the trans people honoured in this rite will appreciate my presence, but I’ve had such a bizarre and uncomfortable relationship with other trans people, I have to ask myself why I’d be doing it, and if it’d be for the right reasons or not. Will I be doing it For Them, or will I be doing it just to spite those still among the living who have annoyed me or to prove some kind of point to those people? If I’m not going to be involved for the right reasons, I should take a moratorium until I can.

That said, I still want to donate my old prayer to Kybele for the cause.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

I must return to Apollon’s city in Michigan…

The handful of my Of Thespiae readers who also follow me on Teh FarceBorg may already recall that I’m at risk of being homeless at the end of this summer. This is problematic for a few reasons –I have health problems, Mr Nigel Prancypants (my cat) and I are emotionally dependent on eachother, and, well, as my friend Mr McElligot once said, a home is.. something wisevand stuff… Sorry, I haven’t been sleeping well, lately, and I’m on the tablet, and it just isn’t worth looking up the chatlogue on FB right now, so fuck it –but it was very wise. Something about roots. I’m also broke, I have barely over $100 saved up for all sundry moving-to-a-warmer-climate stuff-and-nonsense, which I can totally dig into, if I have to, but I’m still hoping to raise separate moving funds.

That said: I have thought about this logically, and I have meditated on this, and I have consulted divinations, when applicable, and I have concluded that it is in my best interests to move back to Ann Arbor, until I can leave Michigan.

Logically speaking:
It makes a lot of good basic sense to move back to the Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti area. All of my doctors are there, as much as the AATA sucks, the public transit in A2/Ypsi is actually a lot better than it is in Lansing (and as a disabled Medicare recipient, I qualify for a free bus pass in A2, where in Lansing, it’s only discounted), and there are greater social resources (where here, especially after my friend Jay quit the Goth/Industrial night up the street from me [due to regular double-booking], all my social life potential here is connected to FetLife, and I have a low tolerance for most kinkyfolk outside fet settings, or now my friend Ace’s drag night is monthly, and sometimes I can get in on carpooling to concerts in Detroit a few times a year). The downside is that A2 is **expensive**, and while Ypsilanti is better, it’ll still be a “roommate required” sitch, but here’s the fun part: I was in A2 last week (fourth Mon of June 2014), and whilst killing time at Crazy Wisdom’s tea room upstairs from the bookstore, I casually asked the manager, who I just thought was another barrista, if she hires part time or seasonal, and she said she pretty much only hires part time, but you gotta commit to a year, at least, and I said “I can probably do at least a year, I’m just mostly familiar with people only offering me seasonal, cos I’m disabled,” and she said “well, if you can move back to A2/Ypsi, come by, fill out an app, and I’ll put you to work.” So I’ve got a job lined up, I even told her that I can only really do two or three days a week.

On all logical grounds, it just makes sense to go back. I hate the students, and 80%+ of the townies aren’t much better, but all my doctors are there, and I’ll have a social life again. I’ll have a part-time job, and hopefully that’ll enqble me to save money to move out of this state, if only for the sake of my chronic pain.

On the spiritual side:
I know when I first moved here, I was excited about the house with garden, but that first summer, I think I strained my back while excavating grass, and my relationship with this house has been on a steady decline. I have suspected since recovering my back, that the local spirits in this city and I don’t really “gel”. I don’t know Who or Whose deities are especially active here in Lansing, and I’ve often felt either too physically weak or too emotionally depressed to find out. I respect Them That Live Here, and they seem to respect me, but it’s like when you meet someone that seems interesting at first, maybe you have a few things in common, but nothing that “really matters”, and you two never have anything to talk about. I think it might also be contributing to some of the spiritual stagnation I’ve had here.

Now, I don’t talk about that stagnation much, especially here, cos it’s kind of embarrassing. I went from being so spiritually active in the A2/Ypsi area, even that period after my surgery (which I now understand as a temporary enforced taboo), I was active: Painting regularly, divining near-daily, *my plants thrived* whereas here, I’ve somehow killed everything but my laurel and a zygocactus I got the winter my older cat, Vermin, died –and I got so depressed that winter my cat died that I almost killed my laurel. I have barely read coffee or tea since I’ve been in Lansing. I haven’t painted anything on canvas in the three years I’ve been here, and I only got around to painting my leather jacket when it became clear that I had to move (even though it took me a while to admit I had to return to A2) –I’ve wanted to paint, even bought a huge canvas for a painting of The Fates, but after I brought it home? All drive to actually paint it left, and I have been unable to get the car started, again.

I’ve been spiritually minded, I’ve started doing all sorts of research, and Nocturnal Spirits, but so little has actually come of this, that I doubt it’s me, at this point –and I was afraid for a long time that it was all me.

Now, I referred to Ann Arbor as “Apollon’s City” because it is. Apollon is active all over that area, even Ypsilanti and Saline. It might explain why Apollon was the first deity contact I had before “officially” coming to Hellenismos. he’s at the hospital, the university, the libraries, and a lot of streets and addresses I’ve since learned are associated with music from the area. I think returning to Apollon’s city might be good for me, spiritually, as well, especially as Eros and Apollon have always been my spiritual constants in life, even when I wasn’t aware of it, even when I was an eight-year-old in Toledo, fresh witb my D’Aulaire book and feeling Apollon with me in the choir.

Unfortunately…

Time is NOT on my side. There’s the Polytheist Leadership Conference next week (and I only got my ticket in the mail about a week and a half ago –a ticket I bought at the end of May), and I had to dip into my Conference Catering Money, and maybe my half of the Conference Room Money last week, whilst in Ann Arbor, checking out rooms for rent. I think I’ve already lost one such room cos it’s been so hot I couldn’t sleep well, and missed a 1 July deadline to get in a sublet application, so barring some birthday miracle, there goes that. Plus, whilstbat Crazy Wisdom last week, I also met a girl who’d be looking to move into an apartment around the same time I’d NEED one, and we really seemed to click (she’s a cat person, loves wine and cheese, into yoga, semi-veg), but so far we’ve had lousy timing in getting a hold of eachother to work out a day to meet up in thevA2/Ypsi area and check places out –and I really hope that something with her could work out, cos I’m usually really apprehensive about moving in witb strangers who aren’t at least a friend-of-a-friend, but we’ve already got a bit in common, and I like her energy. If all else fails, hopefully my friend Patrick will be able to take me in for a bit, and I know my friend Jeff can store my books, LPs, and DVDs.


So, in part to help raise money for the move, I’m planning on bringing my coffee service to the Polytheist Leadership Conference and doing $10 readings. I’m going to donate a dollar from each reading to The Maetreum of Cybele as an offering to the Goddess, and a dollar each reading to RAINN, and hopefully the rest will help me move back to the A2/Ypsi area.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

Hemara Gaia

©Josephine Wall

I’d make a more substantial post right now, but I’m feeling a tad on the uninspired side right now, and it may or may not have to do with the fact that my head is covered in wave clips and gel (it’s really the only way to make my hair hold anything for more than an hour). I’m going to celebrate Hemara Gaia the way any urbanite should: I’m going out to a nightclub.

…but, to do it, I’m taking in a bunch of bottle returns so I don’t have to take out cash, I’m getting myself a flower from the farmer’s market, and I’ll be walking there and back (unless, of course, I drink too much to walk three blocks, which is unlikely). Also, my hair dye is all-natural botanical and vegan, and my conditioner has placenta and gel have placental proteins in them, so even though I’m not vegan, I’m not letting that shit go to waste, nosiree.

Yeah, I could probably go out and do some more work in the garden, but it’s cold, and I will not be shamed about my lacking desire to plant saplings.

You keep Hemara Gaia in your way, and I’ll keep it in mine.

©Josephine Wall

I give thanks to Pan
God of the wild things
Of the forests and the streets
And to His companion Kybele
To whom Theban women sing
Mother of Earthly life
©2010 Ruadhan J McElroy

You’re free to use this small prayer I wrote in your ritual, but please re-print with credit, and do not publish formally without permission.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

30 Day Paganism Meme: Day 14 ~ Pantheon – Nyx & Kybele/Gaia

I tend to regard Nyx and Kybele not as two names for the same Goddess, but as two distinct types of Mother Goddess. Whether “Kybele = Rhea”, I really am not sure, but I know that those who dismiss Kybele’s cult as “foreign” carefully don’t mention that Rhea’s cult is of Minoan origin. There’s also the fact that in Boeotia, Kybele in specific was regarded as a wife or consort of Pan — and if getting a Husband Whose cult can be traced to the Hellenic mainland is good enough to make the Kypriot Aphrodite “Hellenic enough”… Really, some people are major weiners about this, when it’s all really quite logical.

My comprehension of Kybele is also a tad outside the modern “Hellenic mainstream”, and (at least based on what I’ve s-far concluded in my studies of Boeotian traditions), probably closer to an ancient Boeotian understanding — if not a perfect match to Boeotian thought (at least for some poleis), then close enough to be likely accepted, should I finally get that phone booth back in working order. I don’t see Kybele as a match to Rhea, but Gaia, though I honour Gaia and Kybele differently. Let’s compare this Goddess to a a sort of Borg-like entity — They are distinct, but clearly share a consciousness. Where Gaia is the literal Earth, and a living organism, and a Goddess, She’s also rather impersonal1 — this is where Her Kybele form is necessary and also a distinct form for Her consciousness. As Pindar reports of Thebes, I too see Her as a mate of Pan.

As much as Kybele is a nurturing and deeply feeling Mother Goddess, one Who will cuddle you into Her many bosoms, She will sit you down and tell you very frankly what it is. She’s a Goddess of opposites — She’s both a physical and spiritual being, She’s a Goddess of wild things (and indeed, mated with a god of wild things) but Her crown is a city’s walls, and (perhaps most tellingly) Her mythos tell the story of the first surgical “correction” of an Intersex infant because a few gods were offended and disgusted. In part for Her origin mythos, and in part for the story of Attis, Her son, going mad and ritually castrating Himself, Her cult, in ancient times, maintained a priest/ess caste of biological men who willingly submitted to a ritual castration and adoption of feminine identities (and, in modern times, this is often interpreted as having been a haven for trans women and male-assigned genderqueer people — but this is a modern Anglocentric culture’s interpretation, I know of nothing that survives of writings from this priestly caste that articulates their own gender identities), which has given Kybele a special reverence to many transgender and intersex individuals. Unlike Eros, Hermes, and many other Trickster deities, She doesn’t exist in the liminal, in-between spaces — she simultaneously exists on both sides of a divide. Like all mothers, She can be both your greatest ally and worst enemy.

Many modern Pagans and Polytheist have this ridiculously romanticised vision of “nature” and the “natural world”. This idea that an untamed forest is a place of kindness, that the planet will just “give” everything needed to Herself and the creatures that live on Her surface. They forget that Gaia throws tantrums — or, if those fits are acknowledged, it’s always with the adage that “we humans deserve it” — forgetting the ill impact these fits have on other living things. While Gaia tends to eventually sort out Her droughts, and blights, and hurricane devatstations, these events still have impacts on plant life, animal life, human life, and even Her own face. It seems only logical to me that Gaia and Kybele are the same soul — They’re clearly a Goddess of opposites.

Nyx, too, is a Mother Goddess, but also not. She’s the mother of Eros, a creative force, mother of Eris, The Oneroi, the Moirai, Furies and so many other Daimones, but this is not a mother Goddess as we mortals understand the concept.

Queen Alexandra (1844–1925) — widow of Edward VII and mother of George V.

Queen Alexandra (1844–1925) — widow of Edward VII and mother of George V.

It’s like the difference between a fan (short for “fanatic”) and one who just likes something. She’s a goddess Who’s a mother, and She is of great importance to the Gods (on what I gather is a personal level for Them), but at best, we can only catch glimpses, occasional nuggets of how amazing a force She is. She’s a deity for deities — She will graciously accept our worship and sacrifices, but the greatest title Hellenes have ever had for Her is a Goddess of Night — and yet, poetry and hymns exist, and continue to be written for this other Great Mother, whom we’ve only seen in snaps. In comparison, She’s like the Queen Mother to most Amerikans — obviously, she’s of some great importance to some people, obviously a mother, but damned if anybody but very few will ever figure out exactly what she actually does and why she’s treated with such reverence, since she’s clearly not the same as the Queen Regent (reigning queen).

That said, I obviously lack a personal relationship or deeper understanding of Nyx — and unless Eros changes His mind, I won’t need to know any time soon. She’s His mother, via parthenogenesis — She was born with his zygote already inside Her when She and Erebos were formed from Khaos. She’s a Deity that all other Deities hold in great esteem. She inspires the occasional mortal burst of insight to Her nature. That’s good enough for now.


1: But as with all polytheist topics, your mileage may vary.


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About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

Thanks

I give thanks to Pan
God of the wild things
Of the forests and the streets
And to His companion Kybele
To whom Theban women sing
Mother of Earthly life

A couple of weeks ago, my room-mate’s cat was diagnosed with cancer (well, sort of; there was no biopsy, but the vet said that’s probably that that mass on his liver is), and so this last couple weeks, he’s been on a steroid chemo, if only just to make his last projected year easier on him and in less pain. The cat in question is fifteen, which is a pretty old age for a cat (think of the human equivalent being 80 or so), so it’s not like it would be totally terrible if he really did only have one more year — and this is also the cat who tackles the vacuum cleaner hose attachment, so whatever gods of animals must be smiling upon him for battling the enemy of all house-pets so bravely, a slightly shortened life would be a small price to pay for a seat in Cat-Halla.

So far, it seems that his health has progressed wonderfully, as he’s been putting up a bit of a struggle with taking his pill this last few days, and my room-mate even thinks the cat has put a little weight back on.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

Transgender Day of Rememberance

[This was originally cross-posted to the Hellenion_Chat and Neokoroi e-mail lists, and it just occurred to me that I didn’t get around to posting this here, like I said that I would, because the latest FireFox update is total crap and keeps freezing up and the only way to fix it is to reboot this eight-years-old eMachines piece of poopie.]

For those not in-the-know, 20 November is the Transgender Day of Rememberance for TS/TG persons who have died as victims of hate-crimes and is an important day for TS/TG persons (MTF and FTM) and their friends, families, and allies.

As one whose gender has often been debated by others (even though it’s been clear to me for the last two decades and some [note: I consider my condition one of many states of being a “biological eunuch”, in that I did not go through a normal boy puberty; but just for the record, I’m male-identified and making several hormonal and surgical “corrections”]), I plan to just simply offer libation, a small portion of lavender, and some music by Jayne County (who is awesome), recite my version of the Story of Hermaphroditos [note: to be posted later, currently in Iss#17 of He Epistole, ask me for a PDF or printed copy], and give this small prayer:

O Kybele, O Hermaphroditos,
Theoi of changed forms,
All I ask of you on this sacred day to those of similar fate
And of form andro-gynos by birth or by hand,
Is to seek justice for those whose time was cut short,
And to aid and protect those who remain in a world less understanding.
May Persephone and Adonis lead those passed safely to the Fields of Elysium,
May those who brought them to You too soon be dealt their due justice in this world,
And by Those Who Judge the Dead.
May Athene and Zeus guide the judges of the living to seek mercy on the deceased,
As you, O Andro-Gynos Theoi, give comfort and confidence to the living.

My rituals are usually very simple, consisting of little more than offering of food and/or herb and libation.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

Bulgarian Temple of Kybele For Sale!

News Link

I’m rather torn about this (as I said in the comments on The Wild Hunt‘s post:

On one hand, if it were bought by a private group of polytheists (or even just one insanely wealthy polytheist), then there would be a much higher chance of this temple being restored to its former purpose — and how amazing that would be! On the other, I’d rather see it turned into a state-run museum (or some such “historical site”) than have some fat-cat buy it up for the land and sell everything on it to other museums.

According to Hellenised Phygrian mythos, Kybele was originally born Agdistis, an hermaphroditic being who the Gods then castrated out of fear. The God/dess was then renamed Kybele, and was worshipped by some Greeks as Rhea, though Walter Burkert’s Greek Religion gives (pp177-179) reason to believe that the name “Kybele” was common in Hellenic worship and that “Meter Kybele” was often-enough worshipped alongside Dionysian worship. It’s also of note that Kybele’s son Attis is mentioned in the Orphic Hymns (Athanakasis translation: Orpheus to Mousaios; line40 “And I invoke Mother of the immortals, Attis and Men”, and line 20 of the same hymn references the Korybantes) and Orphic Hymn 27 “To the Mother of the Gods”, is clearly about Kybele (line 13: “all-taming, saviour of Phygria,…”; and line 14, “child of Ouranos,…”, Ouranos being the Hellenic God of the Sky, though Theoi.com relays the Phygrian Sky God counterpart in the Hellenic pantheon as being Zeus); the fact that the ancient Greeks worshipped Kybele is not a “might have”, “maybe”, or “if they did” matter, She very obviously was revered by them and Her cult was as thoroughly Hellenised as that of Adonis by the time of Homer.

In modern times, at least in the circles I’ve run in, Kybele seems most-revered by Pagans in Transgender/Transsexual, Intersexed, and “gender queer” (a uniquely modern Western take on the “third sex” concept) circles, most likely because of Her origin mythos stating that she was born Intersexed but then castrated to appear more typically “female” (thus the few genuinely Intersexed-born people I know feel a sense of relation, as such is typically the fate of Intersexed-born children), and the practise amongst Her order of priests, known as the Gallos, Galli or Gallai, to become voluntarily ceremonially castrated during an ecstatic rite and, by some sources, then adopted a “woman’s role” by taking on feminine dress and identity (thus securing Her reverence among many Transgendered, especially Trans Woman [Male-to-Female] pagans and polytheists).

The cult of Attis is an interesting one. On one hand, He’s technically the son of Kybele, in the mythos, but in a similar way that Aphrodite is the son of Oraunos: When the Gods castrated Agdistis, They cast off the male organs and from where it fell grew an almond tree. When the nuts ripened (hee hee), one was picked by the nymphe Nana and laid in Her bosom, where it was forgotten about. The almond then somehow burrowed into Her womb, and ta-daa! Attis was born! So perhaps then Kybele is technically His father, biologically speaking? Nana then abandoned the child and He was cared for by a billy goat (or adopted by Agdistis, now renamed Kybele, depending on the version), and later Kybele fell in love with the long-haired youth, who was driven mad by Kybele’s True Form, inspiring Attis to castrate and emasculate himself. Attis was then taken on as Her lover and servant, and according to some existing mythos, when Attis died, His body became the evergreen pine.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.