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.

[PBP2013] Gaia-Kybele

So, I had this idea to make this great new post, but for the most part, i’ve already said a lot of perfect things in this older post. Here, let me quote you something:

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.

The bits before and following that bit are pretty good, too, though some of the latter portion has changed in the nearly two years since I wrote it.

Here are some other interesting bits that I’ve found:

  • According to Theoi Project (and implied in Burkert’s Greek Religion, by lack of any real index points for Gaia, properly), there was very little in the way of Gaia worship that was clearly indistinguishable from Demetre, or other Goddesses.
  • Gaia’s sacrifices, in ancient times, included black animals; more typical of Khthonic deities than Olympians. If you’re of the (thankfully not apparently all that widespread) opinion that Khthonoi are “spooky” and Their worship should be avoided, think about that —and the above fact.

Also, here’s a lovely fragment from later antiquity, but not necessarily irrelevant, as it seems to be in line with Boeotian tradition:

Suidas s.v. Ge (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek Lexicon C10th A.D.) :
“Ge (Earth): Since the earth is a seat of every city, as, supporting the cities, her image is that of a tower-bearer.”

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.

Feast of Eros symbolism

I’ve long realised that the “Easter symbols” I grew up with, and encouraged both at my old Catholic school and my Anglican family, have nothing to do with Jesus or even Christianity. These are fertility symbols that have nothing to do with death and apothesis.

But where Wiccans and pagans of ancient Northern European traditions recognise these as symbols of Oestere, I posit that these are symbols of Eros.

First we have daffodils — an English hybrid of Narcissus Poeticus — the species of flora that was once the Thespian youth Narkissos, the boy who spurned Eros for his own reflection. My mother and hers always decorated our baskets with plastic or silk yellow and peach-coloured daffodils, so while this may not seem an “Easter symbol” to some, it’s one that I cannot shake.

Then there are the eggs.

“Firstly, black-winged Nyx laid a germless egg in the bosom of the infinite deeps of Erebos, and from this, after the revolution of long ages, sprang the graceful Eros with his glittering golden wings, swift as the whirlwinds of the tempest.” (Aristophanes, the Birds)

And so we have glittering, coloured eggs for Eros.

In ancient art, Eros and Erotes were frequently depicted with hares, and those beloved of the Gods (here, Ganymedes and Zeus) with cockerels — making it easy to discern where “bunnies” and “baby chicks” come from; after all, as the image of Eros in art became younger and younger, it’s certainly logical that these symbols of His feast will, as well.

I admit, the lamb is harder to connect, but growing up amongst Polacks, you notice their tradition of the “butter lamb” which, being made from milkfats, reminds us of the fertility of Eros and his cult in Thespiae. The Simnel cake, coated in marzipan, an almond paste, reminds us of Eros, as the force of fertility itself, which formed Attis from the cast-away “boy parts” of Kybele — and the hot cross bun, traditionally filled with currants and raisins, reminds us of Eros’ similarities to Dionysos.

Even the modern custom of “Easter chocolates” brings to mind modern “Valentine’s Day” traditions — and thus the cults of love and fertility.

And so I wish you all a merry Feast of Eros.

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.

Kybele & Pan worship in Boeotia

I don’t remember which Hellenic Polytheism list I saw this on, but I recall somebody relatively recently (within the last couple of months or so) saying something about Kybele and Pan being worshiped side-by-side in certain regions of Boeotia. I seem to recall reading that in some book, as well, but owning comparatively few books, I can’t just quick look that up right now.

I’ve found limited info in googling some books, Cybele, Attis and Related Cults by Maarten Jozef Vermaseren & Eugene Lane mentions this in Theban cultus, specifically.

Does anybody reading this perhaps know where else I can confirm this?

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.