Discovering the Male MysteriesWelcome to Discovering the Male Mysteries with Mel Mystery. This blog is a supplement to my podcast is for and about gay and bi pagan men. My podcasts are about what it is to be gay, what it is to be pagan, what it is to be men — sometimes as separate topics and sometimes all meshed together as one. I started this endeavor after seeing that there were few, if any, podcasts out there on this topic. The podcasts are informative, and present topics that challenge conventional thinking.
The cover page of Mysterious Ways. Please select the link in the article to view the full newsletter.
At long last, I’m happy to announce the first issue of Mysterious Ways – a newsletter for Pagan men who love men.
The theme of the first issue is “Empowering Queer Men’s Spirituality.”
Highlights from this issue include:
• Gatherings and Retreats for Pagan men who love men
• The Greek God Pan
• Discovering Arcadia: An Eden of Male Love
• Why Visibility and Representation Matter
• Think Globally, Support Locally
• Empowering Our Tribe of Queer Pagan Men
• Poetry and Art
• Listings of Queer Pagan Men’s groups, gatherings, blogs, podcasts, and other resources
You can view (and download) Mysterious Ways at the link below:
This episode is about the magickal land of Arcadia in ancient Greece, its theme as a metaphor for a homosexual utopia among 19th century homosexual men, and it being the name for a new gathering for gay and bi Pagan men on the East Coast.
The rustic, wooded land of Arcadia was home to Greek gods such as Zeus, Hermes, and Pan, as well as satyrs, centaurs, nymphs, and other magickal creatures. The “gay god” segment of this episode will focus on the Greek god Pan.
The Arcadia gathering is scheduled to take place October 9-12, 2019 in Cumberland, Virginia.
“Home” can mean more than one thing. Home might be where you grew up. It might be the place you go once you get off work. Home might be a house, an apartment, a condo, a trailer, or some other dwelling. Home doesn’t even have to be a dwelling. It can be a time or a place or a people. Some folks find home in annual events and gatherings like Between the Worlds, Pagan Spirit Gathering, Witch Camp, Gay Pride, and other such events. Some folks find home in groups and communities—the LGBTQ community, the Pagan community, the Poly community, and various Fet communities. Groups, communities, and events are especially important to those who are marginalized and for those folks who aren’t on good terms with their birth families. For many, finding home means finding your family of choice. The most important part of home and family is a feeling of belonging, and a feeling that those there have your back. Home is where the heart is. To quote Robert Frost, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”
For me, home is the place I grew up and that was in my family for over three decades. It’s the house near the lake where I ran through the woods in my youth, and where I first camped just inside the woods at my first adolescent signs of growing independence. Home is were I learned to drive up and down the dirt road driveway, where I played in the creeks catching crawfish and newts, and where I fished in the lake with my best friend, Mark, and my neighbor, Shane. Home is where I first learned to work on cars with my Dad as I became enthused with the TV show Knight Rider. It’s where I ran around pretending to be Doctor Who while wearing a long scarf. And it’s where I pretended to be a Jedi from Star Wars using a tree branch as a lightsaber. Home is where I learned to love animals. We had dogs and cats and hamsters and parakeets and ducks and so many more pets. Home is where my family lived for over 30 years. Home is the place my Dad always said would pass down to me and my sister. Home is the place I knew I could always go back to—no matter what — until it wasn’t. Family were the people I knew I could always count on to have my back— no matter what — until they weren’t. My Dad passed away in 2009 and my Mom remarried two years later. A few years after she remarried, she sold our home despite protests from me and my sister, and even after requests to buy at least the lot adjacent to home, if not the home itself, because that’s all me and my sister would have been able to afford at the time.
I have other “homes”—the place I live now, my local Pagan and LGBTQ communities, and I even felt like I found home at some gatherings I’ve gone to like the now ended Coph Nia gathering for Gay and Bi Pagan men. None of these make up for the feeling of loss at losing my childhood home. I’m determined to get it back someday—hopefully someday soon. I’d like to retire there and I’d also like to ensure it gets passed down to my sister’s kids, as I know my Dad would have liked. In the meantime, I’m hoping to create new homes for myself and for others. I’m still hoping to found my campground though that might take a few more years and my quest to regain my childhood home might have to take precedence. I’m also trying to create “homes” for the “alternative” communities to which I belong. These homes include my local annual “Alternative Pride Picnic” for LGBTQ folks, Pagans, Poly folks, and others. It includes the Brotherhood by the Bog Retreat for Pagan men. Soon it will also include the Arcadia Gathering for Queer Pagan and Hellenist Men.
To quote Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor, “My journey is the same as yours, the same as anyone’s. It’s taken me so many years, so many lifetimes, but at last I know where I’m going, where I’ve always been going. Home—the long way ‘round.”
Just wanted to share an exciting event for Queer Pagan, Hellenistic, and Earth-based spirituality men that is coming up in October of this year.
The first ever Arcadia Gathering will be held the week of October 9-12, 2019 at Bear Creek Lake State Park in Cumberland, Virginia. We are hoping this will become an annual event and that it will fill a void for such gatherings on the East Coast and mid-Atlantic U.S.
The theme of our first gathering is “Discovering Arcadia: Empowering Queer Men’s Spirituality.” Our patron deity this year will be the Greek god, Pan. Pan was one of the primary patrons of ancient Arcadia. He is the god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature, rustic music, and sexuality. Pan is known for chasing both nymphs and shepherds alike.
The event will also be very affordable. Early registration (before June 1) is a flat fee of $75. After that, the cost goes up to $100. This includes a standard tent space, basic breakfast and dinner (lunch on your own), and a parking pass for the campground. There is an add-on fee for folks wishing to have large family-size tents or extra tents, as space may be limited. We may also consider renting out a bunk house at the campground, if we have enough interest. The bunk house would also be an add-on cost. For details, visit our website.
We are looking for workshop and activity presenters, and for folks interested in helping to plan or staff the event.
For additional information and to register, please visit our website and Facebook pages below:
Wicca is the most commonly known Pagan religion. Usually the religion is called “Wicca” and most Wiccans practice spells and that practice is called “witchcraft.” It’s basically good witchcraft. Wiccans have a law called the “Wiccan Rede.” The short version pretty much says “Do as you will, but harm none.” They also believe that anything bad you do to anyone else will come back to you three times. They call this the “Law of Three.” Wiccans worship a Goddess and a God. They generally believe that all gods and goddesses from various cultures and mythologies are just different aspects of one ultimate Goddess and one ultimate God. Wicca is generally considered a feminine religion. Modern Wiccans are more likely to focus on the Goddess than the God. Some paths focus on the belief in male-female polarity, especially related to something called “the Great Rite.” This Rite is basically the sexual union of male and female – whether practiced as a genuine sex act or symbolically. In some circles there’s debate about how LGBT people fit into the whole polarity thing. LGBT folks tend to have both masculine and feminine polarities within, rather than being exclusively one or the other.
There are many paths within Wicca including Dianic Wicca, Gardnerian Wicca, and the Feri Tradition.
Dianic Wicca tends to be almost exclusively female and Goddess oriented and is a favorite of Lesbians and Feminists. Dianic Wicca was founded in the 1970s by Zsuzsanna Budapest. Its focus is on the worship of the Roman goddess Diana (Artemis in Greek mythology) and feminism. Unlike traditional Wicca that honors a god and a goddess, Dianic Wiccans view the Goddess as complete unto herself. She is the source of all life. Originally most Dianic covens consisted of Lesbian women, but modern Dianic groups may be heterosexual or mixed, but they remain a female-only tradition. Dianic covens often exclude Transgender people who were not born biological females.
Gardnerian Wicca was founded by was founded by Gerald Gardner in the 1950s. Gardner, was extremely homophobic and believed that covens and rituals should be performed exclusively through heterosexual male-female pairs.
The Feri Tradition emphasizes the “fey” (elves, fairies, etc.) and is open to all sexual orientations. They often encourage bisexuality during rituals. Faery Witch covens made up of Gay men have also been formed and are accepted in the Faery Witch tradition. Feri and Faery Witches should not be confused with the Radical Faeries which will be discussed in a later article.
Other Wiccan paths include Alexandrian, Celtic, Georgian, and Discordian Wicca. There are also Kitchen Witches and Hedge Witches.
Two must read texts on LGBT Wicca and Witchcraft are “Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture” by Arthur Evans and “Gay Witchcraft” by Christpher Penczak.
This episode includes segments on Pagan and magickal superhero archetypes, LGBT superheroes including characters and actors, “research” into naughty superhero sites, and why do villains so often have gay voices and mannerisms.
Songs and sound clips include: Holding Out for a Hero, the Smallville theme, and clips from Spiderman, Batman, and others.
To listen you can visit my website (www.melmystery.com) or look for the episode on iTunes.
I want to take a moment to announce what I hope will be my next big project. For a long time, I’ve been contemplating the idea of starting a campground of some type. I’ve often thought it might be a retirement project, but I’ve become more and more compelled to make it a reality sooner. Perhaps it’s dissatisfaction with my current day-to-day job, the call (or perhaps crisis) of midlife, feelings of deep loss after my mom sold my childhood home, the desire to get back to living in a rural area closer to nature, or some combination of the above. Whatever the reasons, I’ve decided to embark on the journey to making this dream of a campground a reality. I’m still in the early stages, and don’t know entirely whether the dream will be achieved, but I know it’s the direction I want to be heading.
Over the past year, I’ve been researching LGBTQ, Pagan, and even a few other types of campgrounds; I’ve formulated a business plan; and I’ve created a web page to mark the start of the project and to track its progress, as well as to start building an interested community. The first major milestone will be purchasing land and relocating. I hope to do this within the next year or two, and will also need to find a new job in the new town to hold me over until the campground opens. The likely location will be somewhere in central Virginia. I’ll be looking for a second business partner to help found and run the business. Things really won’t get moving in a big way until after the land purchase. At that point, I’ll be looking for investors and other sources of start-up finances to build the rest of the campground. I’ll also be looking for campground members and outside groups looking to host gatherings there. I’m hoping the campground itself could open within the next 3-5 years.
My concept uses many of the gay and bi men’s campground resorts already out there as a base, but merges those with other communities such as Pagans, and some adult lifestyle communities. While gay and bi men, and Pagan men will likely be the base audiences, other adult audiences would be welcome regardless of sexual orientation, gender, etc. This will be a membership-based adult campground resort. I hope to host a variety of theme weekends and even a handful of gatherings. I’d also open up the campground to outside conferences and gatherings. I’d like to create an open air Pagan / Hellenistic temple that could host drum circles and solar / lunar celebrations and rituals.
I wanted to take a moment to announce the start of the project, but I also look forward to input, advice, etc. If anyone is interested in helping this dream become a reality; if you think you might be interested in becoming the second business partner (or know someone who would be interested); if you think you might want to become a future investor once I get to that stage; if you think you might want to become a member, camper, or host a gathering there; if any of these things intrigues you, please visit my website for the campground and feel free to contact me with your ideas or to be put on the mailing list.
You may have heard the expression in school never to wear green on Thursday because that makes you a “queer” or a “fairy”. What seems like a cruel made up children’s game to identify gay people actually underscores a long history of the color green being associated with gay men.
The term “fairy” has long been a term used to identify gay men. Its use has been largely derogatory, but some gay men have reclaimed it. In the book, Another Mother Tongue: Gay Words, Gay Worlds, by Judy Grahn, the author points out that green was the primary color worn by mythical fairies, and this connection ties into this tradition. The fairies have freer sexual morals than Christian cultures are comfortable with. In fact, given their extremely long, perhaps even immortal lives, the idea of eternal marriage and coupledom would only give way to boredom. So homosexual bonds were likely to have been acceptable. The color green is a useful color for mythical fairies because it helps them to blend in and remain hidden in their natural environment among the plants and trees.
As for the connection with Thursday, Thursday was considered by some to be “Fairy Day”. There is an additional connection to Thursday with medieval witches. When questioned under torture about their practices, some witches confessed that they practiced different sexual rites on different nights, and Thursday was the night associated with homosexual rites.
But the association with the color green and homosexuals goes back even further. Cassell’s Encyclopedia of Queer Myth, Symbol and Spirit has more to say on the color green. At Ephesus, the transgender and often homosexual priests of the goddess Artemis / Diana wore garments of scarlet, violet, saffron, and yellow-green. In ancient Rome, green and especially yellow-green was associated with male gender variance and especially the passive role in male homosexual acts. These men were called galbinati, and are mentioned in Martial’s Epigrams. Martial talks about how these soft, effeminate men garbed in green lie on purple couches while being fanned by other men using red feathers. It sounds like the good life to me, but Martial criticizes their morality as being quote “grass-green.”
In pre-Modern France, bisexual and homosexually inclined courtiers called mignons wore green as the primary color in their tights, along with yellow or red. Often one leg of their tights would be green and the other yellow, and they might have a red cape. Their costumes were derived from three sources — the costumes of traditional troubadours, the costumes of fools, and the costumes of the legendary fairies.
Because green was associated with the margins of society, it also became associated with heretics who carried a green cross in their ceremonies.
Green was also a signifier of homosexuality among British poets. The association of the color green with homosexuality survived into the 19th Century and may even have been reclaimed at that time. A green carnation was adopted as a kindred symbol by Oscar Wilde and the English Decadents, and during the same time a band of men in Paris wore a green cravat to signify their homosexual inclinations.
So as you can see, the color green has a long history of associations with homosexuality, fairies, and magick. Wear it proudly — especially on Thursdays.
One of my favorite adult memories of Halloween was from a time I was living in Colonial Place in Norfolk. The whole neighborhood got into the spirit of the holiday with decorations, haunted yards, adults dressed up in costumes ready to give candy to the trick or treaters. On Halloween, the whole neighborhood looked like a place out of a spooky movie. I lived in a house with some artistic folks. The landlady even made an authentic looking werewolf costume out of paper mache and fur. She was already a tall, lanky woman, but she made herself even taller with wooden blocks on her shoes. On Halloween night, unsuspecting tweens and young teens would round the corner onto our porch only to be confronted with a realistic looking seven foot tall werewolf standing over the bowl of candy. Many would run away screaming and then their parents would reassure them, come up onto the porch, spy the werewolf, and run away screaming themselves. My landlady believed that the children should “earn” their treat. She also didn’t give candy to those children who didn’t wear an actual costume.
I’ve told this story time and time again over the years, most folks sharing in the fun that the parents were scared too. Last week I told the story to a co-worker and she suggested that this was terrible. The children were probably traumatized.
As I handed out candy to trick or treaters last night, I reflected on this. I’m no longer in a neighborhood that gets so much into Halloween, but my next door neighbors did and I watched as they handed out candy while in costume in their front yard. I watched as the reluctant kids backed away in droves from the woman in the pumpkin mask handing out candy. I watched as some “earned” their candy by confronting their fears, while others avoided the house and their promised treats because their fear got the better of them. I watched as parents encouraged their children to face their fears, and then I realized… this has all the hallmarks of a rite of passage.
The whole scene reminded me of historical rites of passage and coming of age rites where the adults in a community or village conspire to help the youth gain confidence and independence by confronting their fears and proving they are ready to ascend to the next age grouping. This can be done by sending the youth out into the woods to survive and to hunt on their own, by sending them out for a vision quest, through enacting a mythic ritual, or even by forcing them to face a monster or a wild beast (usually an adult in a mask).
Trick or treat has a number of elements associated with rites of passage and the hero’s journey. There’s a call to adventure – the chance to dress up, roam the streets, and get candy. There are gifts given to the child to help them on their quest – a costume so they can blend in, a bag to hold their bounty, maybe a flashlight or glow stick to light their way. The child meets the guardian at the threshold – the mundane or masked adult handing out candy at the door, porch, or property boundary. If the adult is masked, the children have to face their fear if they want receive their boon. The adventure takes place at a liminal time – dusk on All Hallow’s Eve. The children’s parents act as guides encouraging them that there’s nothing to be afraid of – only a person in a mask. Sometimes the person will take off the mask to show them there’s really nothing to fear. After trick or treat is over, the children bring their bounty back to their homes. Their parents and siblings often share in their prize.
The next year the ritual begins anew. The child is a little older and has more experience than they did the year before. As they grow older, they may start to taunt the masked guardians. “You’re just wearing a mask.” They still may be reluctant to get too close. The years go by and they master their fears (or they become dominated by them). At some point they’re too old for trick or treat, so they start going to Halloween parties at school or hosted by friends. This is another chance to prove their independence, though someone’s parents are probably close by. For good or ill, some start using Halloween as an opportunity to pull pranks, while others go to haunted houses, watch scary movies, and so on. These are yet more opportunities to assert their independence and to face their fears.
Eventually the children, tweens, and teens grow up. They may enact this ritual yet again with their own kids. They may act as parental guides or threshold guardians bearing candy. Or they might fall into the category of those who have become cynical and chose not to celebrate Halloween. Even adults have to face their fears on this day — their fear of the worst in humanity. They know that it’s only other humans under the masks, but that’s not necessarily reassuring. What else might the mask hide – serial killers, rapists, sex offenders, folks who might poison or put razor blades in the candy, human traffickers, body part snatchers, and all our other unconscious fears brought to life? Most folks are normal, everyday people under the masks, but it only takes one or a few bad apples to spoil the celebration. Adults too have to decide whether to face their fears or to be owned and dominated by their worst nightmares.
With all rites of passage there’s always the opportunity to grow by facing fear and asserting confidence and independence, but there’s also always the risk of trauma. Not everyone can face their fears, and those who don’t pass their test often become traumatized by the test and owned by their fears. Trick or treat can be an adventure or a trauma. It all depends on how you approach it and whether or not you let your fears haunt you.
There are bigger questions involved with creating and honoring men’s spaces, and I don’t know all the answers.
How does one go about creating men’s groups, events, and spaces without being exclusive or discriminatory? Or is that just the nature of these types of things in the same way that forming groups of any kind creates a smaller segmentation of society?
What about transgender folks? Is being male a matter of having the right biological parts or is it psychological? On a similar note, if it’s about a mindset, does that mean that masculine oriented women are a better fit than feminine oriented men?
If we start making exceptions to whatever we consider male, does that risk opening the floodgates and turning a men’s group into something that discourages men from opening up or that changes the energy and the dynamic of the group into something it was never intended to be. Given the example from Part 1 of this posting, at what point does the bowling league become a basketball team if it starts trying to be inclusive and representative of basketball players too?
One of the former men’s groups I was part of, restricted membership to biological males. The jest was “you had to have a member to be a member.” When one member’s wife was pregnant with a boy, she poked a loophole in the “rule” claiming she actually had a “member” until such a time as he would be born. At a men’s retreat run by another group, we had a woman show up to our event not so cleverly disguised with a fake mustache. We let her stay, but she only stayed about an hour. In some instances, we specified certain events (like specific workshops, rituals, and men’s retreats) as just for the guys, but public events and social events were welcome to all. Sometimes we’d go out to eat after an event, and some of the guys would bring their girlfriends / wives. If we had parties, we’d invite men and women.
The stance we’ve taken with most of the men’s groups and events I’m currently involved in is that, we won’t turn anyone away who sincerely and respectfully feels they have something to gain from being there. At the same time, we continue to define our groups and events as men’s groups and events. This stance is the most inclusive, but how it will affect the future of these men’s spaces is yet to be seen.
“Today, more men seem to be interested in men’s covens, ritual circles, or similar groups stemming from other traditions… Such groups can be a source of support and of exploration of the particular energy men can generate together. They also give men somewhere to go while the women are at their women’s groups.”
– Starhawk, The Spiral Dance
There are many misconceptions about men’s groups. As I said in my last post, gay men often fear these groups are made of hyper masculine homophobes, and straight men frequently fear these are gay men’s hookup groups. Women have their own preconceptions about men’s spiritual groups — associating these groups with exclusive “good ole boy” clubs of the past that actually did go out of their way to oppress women, rather than as spiritual or self-help groups where men are trying to understand themselves and find their place in the universe. They often believe these groups are there to put down and complain about women, though in actuality the groups meet for male bonding and to discover what it is to be men in our society or in a self-help or spiritual context. The men’s groups I’ve been involved in usually have been made up of men with at least moderately liberal and enlightened viewpoints who try to be sensitive and aware of women’s issues, even if they don’t always do a good job at it.
When I was involved in groups specific to gay and bi men, I’d often get challenged by Lesbians about why there needed to be men’s specific groups. Many never seemed to notice just how many women’s groups and Lesbian groups there were in our local community, or to realize that gay men might have things to discuss in an environment made up of other gay men. Perhaps we had issues that other gay men would understand, but that many Lesbians wouldn’t understand or would be turned off by.
In the Pagan community, I often staff tables at events where I’m promoting a Pagan men’s group I’m involved in, as well as an annual Pagan men’s retreat I help plan. Almost always, there’s at least one outraged woman who feels it’s her obligation to point out how men’s groups are sexist. They never seem to notice how many all-female groups and covens there are or to realize that our men’s groups are about self-discovery and not about oppressing women.
Very recently at one such table, a woman seemed very upset and asked me “why aren’t there any Pagan women’s groups or events?” I would have been just as surprised by her question if she had come up to me at a Druid table in the middle of a Pagan event and asked me why there aren’t any Wiccan groups in the Pagan community. The thing is women’s groups, women’s events, and non-Druid Wiccan groups are all around. If you don’t see them, you aren’t looking. There are priestess retreats, women’s covens, Goddess events, and I remember a recent announcement for a womb ritual. In a balanced world and in a balanced religion, there should also be men’s retreats and men’s groups, and the exploration of Pagan gods. It’s not about putting other people down, but about exploring the divine within and without from the perspective that makes the most sense to you – whether it be gender, a particular spiritual path, a specific mythology, or whatever. As I mentioned in my previous post, a pluralistic society allows for all types of niches and combinations of groups. If one isn’t for you, move onto the next one or create your own.
There was something I found ironic about this woman’s question too (and I’ve also noticed this a number of times with Lesbians interacting with gay men’s groups). There was an underlying tone in the message that seemed to be asking why I (a man) wasn’t out there creating women’s groups and women’s events, as if I even have the background, life experiences, or body parts to do so. While it is my responsibility to treat women respectfully and take their needs seriously, I yield the responsibility to create women’s groups and events (or to be aware of existing groups and events) to women themselves.
Besides my men’s groups, I also write articles about events I attend for the greater communities I’m a part of. Not terribly long ago, I reported on a Pagan event and was publically reprimanded when I shared the article on Facebook. The reader took offense because all the rituals and most of the workshops were run by men and because women led the entertainment, belly dancing, children’s activities, and even a workshop on hair braiding. I was not at all involved with the planning of this event; I only reported on it. Somehow because I reported on the event as it actually happened and because the woman knew I was involved in men’s groups, I was apparently involved in a conspiracy to enforce gender roles on an event I didn’t even help plan. The irony in this case was that the woman who complained about the gender divide at this event was actually involved in the event in a role that perpetuated the actual gender divide she seemed to be blaming me for and the event was planned mostly by a group of women. In reality, there was no conspiracy, the men and women involved with the event gravitated organically toward certain roles – whether from socialization into these roles, whether because these roles meshed with their hobbies and interests, or whether from some combination of these factors. I do concede that my original article could have been more inclusive than it was and that I focused on aspects of the event that I’ve been socialized to consider important, but there was no conspiracy on my part as a writer or on the part of the event’s organizers to enforce traditional gender roles.
I share these incidents, not to oppress women somehow, but to show a need for greater understanding and acceptance about what men’s groups are all about. I also feel it important to show the inconsistencies and ironies associated with negative attitudes towards men’s groups. I personally feel there is room in this world for men’s spaces, women’s spaces, coed spaces, and even spaces for folks who feel they fit somewhere in between traditional genders.
In case anyone missed it, my latest podcast is now available. I uploaded it a few weeks ago, but I’ve been very busy so I’m just now getting around to announcing it. If you subscribe to my podcast on Podbean or iTunes, you probably already saw the new episode show up earlier this month.
In this episode, I continue where I left off in Fifty Shades of Gay – Part 1. Besides sharing some personal news and announcements, I talk about all kinds of alternatives to traditional heteronormative relationships for gay and bi men including living together, civil unions, serial monogamy, casual monogamy, casual non-monogamy, open relationships, open marriages, triads, polyamory, swinging, platonic relationships, Bromances, Boston marriages, BDSM liifestyles, intergenerational relationships, long-distance and Living Apart Together relationships, hiring escorts, and being happily single.
You can find the Discovering the Male Mysteries podcast on Podbean, iTunes, or by visiting my website at: http://www.melmystery.com/
In this episode I provide a review of the 50 Shades of Grey movie that came out a while back and that has been controversial, even in the LGBT community. Was this movie really a negative depiction of women? I talk about different kinds of gay and straight marriage including traditional marriage, Biblical marriage, and the history of marriage and gay commitments. Should the LGBT community really be supporting “traditional” marriage as an institution? Will this have a negative effect on folks in alternative relationship structures? Is Biblical marriage really what people think it is? Were marriages of the past really about love and romance? What types of formalized homosexual commitments existed in ancient cultures?
There’s also a news update and some cool music and sound clips throughout the episode. There’s also an update on the LGBT werewolf book I’m writing including how to get a draft copy before the completed version goes on sale.
Part 2 of this episode will be coming out hopefully sometime this winter. I’ll be talking about different relationship structures for gay and bi men including BDSM relationships, polyamory, intergenerational relationships, and more.
Check out my new podcast titled “Unicorns and Phallic Horns”. In this episode I give some news including information on the 2014 Coph Nia mystical gathering for gay and bi men where I’ll be speaking this year and updates on the books I’m writing on gay and bi men’s rites of passage and gay werewolves. I talk about phallicism and horned phallic gods in many cultures, the phallic symbolism of unicorns, and ponder whether Austin Powers fits the description of a modern phallic god. There’s also a musical hymn to Herne.
I recently read the book Phallos by Thorkil Vanggaard. The overall theme of the book was about phallicism and how it was expressed in many cultures including the ancient Norse cultures. I’ve often heard that the Norse looked down on homosexuality and effeminacy, but reading Vanggaard’s book gave me a different perspective on the matter.
The terms Arg, Argr, Ragr, and Ergi are Norse insults for effeminate men, as well as the male submissive partner in male-male anal sex. According to Vanggaard, the taboo and insults weren’t directed at homosexuality itself but at being submissive and violated. In many cultures, the Norse included, homosexual dominance was used as a political or personal power play to denote the dominant partner as being superior or masculine than another. There was no taboo against being the dominant participant, and even heterosexual men engaged in such acts. Being the submissive participant acted upon by another brought with it a sense of shame. It can be likened letting oneself be bullied or being someone’s “bitch” in a prison environment.
According to Vanggaard, this is why homosexual relations among equals in rank or age are problematic in many ancient cultures, and also why we frequently see culturally approved homosexuality between people in different age groups and social brackets. It’s socially acceptable for someone younger or of a lower social rank to be submissive to someone of higher rank or age.
Vanggaard also suggests that while anal submission was viewed with contempt, male-male genital relations may have been common – especially among the Vikings – in much the same way it is in other all-male military and educational environments where sexual release is needed in the absence of women.
The Norse had rituals for joining men as blood brothers, and Vanggaard suggests that these relationships may have involved genital sex and that these men were often buried together in a way that resembled that of man and wife. In the Blood Brothers Saga, Thorgeir and Thormod were blood brothers and may have been lovers.
My previous research as alluded to the fact that the Norse god Freyr (a phallic fertility god) was worshipped by a sect of effeminate male priests who rang bells and that other homosexual rites may have been involved in his worship. Vanggaard mentions that animal phalluses, including those of reindeer, were sacrificed to Freyr. A description of this is given in the Song of Volse. Some men, including the god Odin practiced the feminine art of Seidr, a form of shamanism. The masculine counterpart was Galdr, which involved singing incantations.
As I mentioned in my last podcast on gay werewolves, Norse wolf warrior bands may have involved some type of homosexual initiation. I’m still researching this and hope to have more to report in the e-book I’m writing on gay werewolves. There may be some connection to these initiations and the Norse story of Gudmundr. In one of the stories, Gudmundr is accused of being agr, but the sorcerer Sinfjotli argues that all of Odin’s warriors (the einherjar) fought to win his love. Sinfjotli goes on to say that Gudmundr is pregnant with nine wolf cubs and that he, Sinfjotli, was the father. Sinfjotli was a sorcerer who is described as being Ylvingar or “wolf’s kin” and who sometimes takes on the form of a wolf. Sinfjotli would not have dishonored the einherjar or himself by saying this if there was a taboo against being the dominant homosexual partner.
I just finished reading the book “Phallos: A Symbol and It’s History in the Male World” by Thorkil Vanggaard. Although the book was written in Denmark in 1969 and translated to English in 1972, I found the book interesting and relevent even 40 years later in 2014. Vanggaard weaves together a history of phallicism in many cultures throughout history – starting with ancient Greece and then highlighting Norse, Scandinavian, Jewish,and pre-Christian Roman cultures. He then outlines how phallicism continued and changed under Christianity and was persecuted as an element of hereticism and witchcraft in the middle and post-middle ages.
While he does mention some phallic cults, Vanggaard’s main focus is on what he calls a “radical” homosexual element that exists both in heterosexual men and “inverse” or true homosexuals. He describes how some cultures like ancient Greece considered phallicism and male-male pederastic relationships sacred, and how both heterosexual and inverse homosexual men engaged in these relationships without the same stigma modern society ascribes to such relations. To him what made these relationships work was the fact that there was a difference in the ages and sometimes status of the men involved in these homosexual relationships. He contrasts this with the Norse concept of Argr, basically an insult to effeminate men and men who were the submissive partners in homosexual sex – anal sex specifically. There was no shame in being a dominant partner in homosexual sex, and Vanngaard also suggests that non-anal, genital sex may have been common and accepted among the Norse. The taboo in Norse culture, and other cultures mentioned in the book, is related to dominance and submission. In these cultures it is important for men of similar age and rank to be equals, and being the submissive partner taints one’s credibility as such.
Vanggaard suggests that the phallus has a dual symbolism in many cultures. It can be erotic or it can be aggressive. The phallus can be viewed as an object of beauty and eroticism as it was amongst the ancient Greeks or it can be transmuted into aggressive symbols like the sword, spear, lance, and arrow. Due to religious influences and differences in culture, this phallicism and phallic symbolism has gone deep into the underground of the subconscious, especially in modern heterosexual men.
Vanggaard uses baboons as an example of the aggressive use of the phallus in nature. Male baboons often guard their troops from other troops of baboons by standing around the perimeter with exhibiting their erect penis. This is an aggressive stance and a warning sign to the other baboons. It is interesting that among the Greeks Herms (statue pillars with a head and erect penis) often guarded boundaries or the entrances to houses. The Romans placed statues of Priapus with an erect penis in orchards to frighten away birds and theives. In ancient Greece, phalluses were used as grave markers, especially to those who donated to the theater in their life. Norse bauta stones (phallic shaped stones) marked graves and sacred spots. In these cases, the phallus was probably used to ward off trespassers and those who meant harm. Phallic amulets are still in use today, and may have a similar warding effect. There is a magickal phallic gesture called the “fica” that is used as a defense against the evil eye and “other dangers.” This gesture is made by placing the thumb through the second and third fingers.
Horned animals also play into phallic symbolism, and many phallic gods have horns.
I will likely make another blog post soon with more of my notes from the book, and my next podcast will be on phallicism. I’m hoping this will be out sometime in April or May of this year.
Links between homosexuality and werewolves in metaphor and myth including Greek, Roman, Norse, and Celtic mythology. King Lycaon of Greece; Romulus and Remus in Rome; Norse Ulfhednar, Vargr, and Berserkers; Celtic Bleiden; European werewolf trials; links between homosexual initiations and werewolves; shape-shifting; shamanic travel; bears, wolves, otters as gay body archetypes; animal totems; modern furry, therian, and werewolf sub-cultures; similarities to transgenderism; werewolf rituals; the story of the two wolves inside each of us.
Be sure to visit my main website at: http://melmystery.matrixwerx.com for more information on the show and for links to my online store featuring pamphlets, e-books, and photography related to GLBT paganism.
I found this in my inbox this morning and thought I’d pass it on.
Stone and Stang is a spiritual gathering for pagan and alternative-spirituality men-who-love-men to gather, celebrate and share sacred space. Stone and Stang will be held Oct 4 – 7, 2013 in Simi Valley, California.
Stone and Stang was founded to empower men-who-love-men to embrace their power, expand their spirituality beyond the conventional, and to grow into a spiritual tribe that extends beyond tradition or geographic boundaries.
Stone and Stang is a spiritual gathering for men-who-love-men of diverse pagan and alternative spiritual paths in the Greater Los Angeles Area of Southern California. Stone and Stang is a safe haven for us to gather, share sacred space, experience ritual, expand our learning and grow together as a tribe. As we connect with the land and with one another, we deepen our understanding of ourselves and our craft. Stone and Stang is hosted by Hyperion and the brothers of the Unnamed Path.
Episode 8 of the Male Mysteries podcast is now online at: http://melmystery.podbean.com/ . It should also be available on iTunes. This is a brand new episode for June 5, 2013.
Topics include: Letters from listeners, the Inuit Creation Story of Aakulujjuusi and Uumarnituq featuring a male couple and transgenderism, a review of the book “Gay Witchcraft” by Christopher Penczak, a review of the Movie “Oz: The Great and Powerful”, some cool music, and a plug for Coph Nia: A Mystical Gatherning for Gay and Bisexual Men August 7-11, 2013 in French Lick, Indiana.