The Goddess of Brazen Hussies

David Ellis Dickerson is a frequent contributor to “This American Life” and his stories tend to revolve around his time as a fundamentalist Christian. I posted about one of them in particular last year.

Now, he’s written a book called The Exy Book: Modern Myths of a Scandalous Goddess — about Xenia, a “skeptical trickster goddess.” She sounds all sorts of awesome:

Xenianism celebrates the spirit and the power of unruly, unladylike, and blasphemous women. Why? Because misbehaving women are always the first target of religious fundamentalists. Therefore (as Xenians teach us) when we save and celebrate unruly women, we save everyone from fundamentalist thinking, and in the process we create a world with more freedom, more creativity, more love for outsiders and misfits, and less dependence on magic and authority.

And you have to love the Four Principles of Xenianism:

Even if you think creating “secular mythology” is oxymoronic, it’s a fun character, and this video tells just one of the episodes in her backstory:



About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, this video is perfect!

    Oh, wait.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-A-Anderson/100000016895400 John A. Anderson

    Of course we fuckers are OK. What’s the point?

  • http://xbowvsbuddha.blogspot.com Dr Rotwang!

    Dollars’ll getcha donuts, this Exy is Eris in a Scooby Monster mask.

    • http://chaoskeptic.blogspot.com Rev. Ouabache

       Hail Eris, full of weirdness!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Arthur-Bryne/100002441143047 Arthur Bryne

      Pretty much my instant reaction as well; reminds me of Eostre/Ishtar/Astarte/Isis/Inanna/Asherah in the middle east area.

  • dauntless

    Finally, a man empowers women to be sexually liberated. It’s just what the fairer sex needed.

    • Gribblethemunchin

      My spidey sense tells me you are being sarcastic.
      If this is the case, could you explain to me why it is not right for men to write about these issues? Can only gays write in support of gay rights? Can only black people write in support of racial equality?

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    I loved it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.ellis.dickerson David Dickerson

    Thanks, Hemant! You’re a prince! 

    I just found out about Eris, and there are definite parallels with Discordianism, but (if I may be forgiven for saying so) what I’ve read of Discordianism looks like it’s mostly a sort of hippy joke, with bits of philosophy added. (Flying Spaghetti Monster, same thing, only without the hippies.) I really do believe, a la Alain de Botton and Jennifer Michael Hecht, that mythology is important, even for secularists, and I’m trying to create a series of stories that, like other (religious) myth systems do, helpfully remind us of things we tend to forget. To accomplish this, it can’t be grounded in silliness. With Xenia, I’ve tried to ground it in happiness instead. 

    @03a078b1ab884bb21f1c0d7cdcef07d8:disqus , I’m not empowering women to be sexually liberated. As you point out, that would be idiotic (and, of course, dangerously arrogant). What I’m hoping to point out, however, is that WHEN women are sexually liberated, this is actually a morally GOOD thing (not a common enough message in our culture or in any mythology ever written), and that the benefits extend to everyone else in occasionally unexpected ways (e.g., wherever there’s roller derby, homosexuals and transgender folks are much safer, and there’s usually a strong art scene. This feels counterintuitive, but it is not an accident.)  I wish I weren’t a man saying it, but since the choice was to be an awkward spokesperson or not to say it at all, I took the imperfect (!) option, hoping not to mansplain along the way. I felt it a risk worth taking.

    @facebook-100000016895400:disqus , the point is NOT merely saying “you fuckers are okay,” although it’s a nice thing to say; the point is that no other religious figure CAN say it, because every religion I can think of has confused swearing with moral evil. (Even the Buddhist Eightfold Path demands “right speech,” which isn’t nearly as fun, or as life-affirming, as saying “fuck” can be. Maybe that’s just me.)  I realize it’s not exactly a brilliant insight, but people don’t follow religions for their brilliant insights; mythic philosophies matter because they remind us of important things we are forever tempted to forget.  I wanted a myth system that would accomplish something similar from a secular perspective. 

    I’ll shut up now. Thanks again, Hemant! I love this site, I love the tone you’ve established, and I’m really really glad the atheist community has you around. Thrive!

    • http://twitter.com/TychaBrahe TychaBrahe

      I’m fascinated by the connection between Roller Derby and LGBT safety.  Can you point me toward some resources?

      If this is in the video, feel free to tell me to watch it.  I’m at work and have no speakers, so it’s scheduled for tonight.

  • Anonymous

    Hmmm, I would argue that if you look into certain areas of Paganism (hell, almost any area will get you there), you already have a mythos like this. Although I do see the stretch to make it a “secular myth”, trickster god/desses are of pagan and aboriginal/native origin. I hate to be repetitive, but in reply to your remark “the point is that no other religious figure CAN say it, because every religion I can think of has confused swearing with moral evil.” again, Paganism of many (if I daresay most) kinds typically doesn’t have a problem with swearing. It just seems like through all of the research that must have went on to develop this concept, I kind of find it surprising (if not a gut reaction of hard to believe) that these other ancient religious philosophies, stories, and myths were not looked at when made a modern “secular” example of. But that’s just my reaction from this post without having read the book. But I’m with Arthur Bryne, reminds me of other Pagan stories/mythos I’ve heard. It’s cute to say the least. She could certainly be an internet meme.

  • http://twitter.com/crankyhumanist Cranky Humanist

    I think 

  • http://twitter.com/crankyhumanist Cranky Humanist

    I’m intrigued with the use of “Xenians, or X-ians.” From now on, when I see “xians” referenced, I am so going to intentionally interpret that as “Xenians.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/Tracy.Bradley1 Tracy Bradley

    Loved it!


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