I’ve never seen a male/nonbinary equivalent of the Maiden Mother Crone cycle that equally centers reproduction and creation. The male versions give the Divine Masculine more agency (Youth Warrior Sage), and I’ve never heard of a nonbinary equivalent at all.
A lot of people commented with gender-neutral alternatives (the most workable being Child Parent Elder), but none of the options really jumped out at me as being uniquely non-binary. Plus they were all still assembled around family, which may or may not be relevant to a non-binary individual.
From a literary standpoint, the closest male equivalent to Maiden Mother Crone is probably Initiation, Separation, Return, but neither cycle can really be applied universally to cisgender deities. In Roman mythology, for example, Diana is the Goddess of children, Lucina is the Goddess of childbirth, and Hecate is the Goddess of children who have not yet been born: The three as a team do align with the Triple Goddess motif, but who is the Mother in this situation? Who’s the Maiden?
Mythic cycles are much more applicable to the human experience than the Divine. And if Pagans like myself, whose gender falls left of center, want to squish ourselves into archetypical boxes, we’re going to have to invent our own.
Which I just did.
You are welcome, my siblings.
Male, like female, is an idea about sex. To say that male-ness is “absence of female-ness”, or vice versa, is a matter of definition and metaphysically arbitrary.
Non-binary people are liminal beings, and therefore our mythic journey isn’t going to revolve around fertility or pre-cast societal roles. Rather, it’s going to be about seeing past the Aneristic Illusions imposed on us to discover and integrate our true selves.
In Greek mythology, the Riddle of the Sphinx asks, “What has four feet in the morning, two feet in the afternoon, and three feet in the evening?” Unless you’re Emo Philips, the answer is a person, crawling as a baby, walking as an adult, and using a cane for mobility assistance in their twilight years. I like the idea of a day as a metaphor for the stages of life, so let’s work with that.
I also feel like we don’t need to stick with three stages, since we’re not trying to match ourselves up with any kind of counterpart. Five stages gives us more room to grow, and the Discordian calendar has five-day weeks instead of seven-day weeks, with each day named after a Discordian Element. The days of the week in order are:
- Setting Orange
Since we’re flying by the seats of our pants here, and since we’re inspired more by the Sphinx than we are Robert Graves or Joseph Campbell, we’re going to use the Discordian days to represent the archetypical stages of the non-binary mythic cycle.
Alright, then, theydies and gentlethem. Let’s do this.
The non-binary individual, or enby, is living under the terms and conditions of the gender they were assigned at birth. Sweetmorns are usually aware that something is not quite clicking with their gender, but they either don’t have the wherewithal to question it, or they overcompensate and work really, really hard to present “correctly” as their assigned gender.
Sweetmorn children tend to be described as “going through a phase” or “at that age.” Sweetmorn adults often startle their friends with encyclopedic knowledge on topics not normally associated with their gender presentation.
Self-actualization and/or surrender. An enby in their Boomtime phase has had a revelation that they do not conform to the gender binary. A whole new reality opens up to them — they may delve into uncommon gender identities, experiment with non-traditional pronouns, or adopt and discard monikers as they figure out who they really are.
Boomtimes may not yet be out to family or friends, but they will have found at least a handful of supportive Discord or Facebook groups that focus on their particular gender, no matter how obscure they perceive it to be. Enbies who name themselves after gemstones, rare flowers, or sea mammals are usually Boomtimes. Additionally, whoever came up with the term abimegender was almost certainly experiencing full-blown Boomtime when they did so.
The enby begins outwardly expressing their gender identity, often with a guerilla social media post that garners a lot more acceptance than they anticipated. This can unfortunately lead to a false sense of security, and Pungendays are easily traumatized by their first encounter with a TERF or a gender essentialist.
Although they are the most vulnerable of the archetypes, many Pungendays find themselves in the unenviable position of having to constantly educate the people around them on gender concepts, which uses up spoons and can sometimes cause a worn-out Pungenday to doubt their identity. Pungendays who do not find enough support or understanding from their peers may regress back to Sweetmorns.
Self-acceptance. The enby no longer gives a shit what anyone thinks of their gender presentation and moves freely and joyously through the world, but they are capable of wielding devastating shade and will absolutely filet anyone who tries to misgenders them. Think Billy Porter, or Jonathan Van Ness.
Prickle-Prickles are less emotionally invested in specific terminology and usually settle into a broader qualifier like genderqueer, genderfluid, or agender. Regardless of how masculine, feminine or androgynous they present, Prickle-Prickles almost always have flawless cosmetic and/or body modification skills. Need a smoky cat eye with a subtle brow and an unsolicited lecture on the importance of learning to love yourself? Go find you a Prickle-Prickle.
Having fully embraced and become one with their gender identity, our enby now moves into the chrysalis of their evolution, emerging as either a fashion icon or a legendary cryptid, brilliantly leading the way for the enbies behind them. Gottmik, Quentin Crisp, Tilda Swinton, and the Honey Island Swamp Monster are my personal favorite Setting Oranges.
I myself am a Pungenday, although I hope to transition into a Prickle-Prickle before I turn 50. And it goes without saying, but this is all just my Discordian take on a non-binary mythos — every enby out there has the liberty to roll with whatever works best for them.
Binaries are just rules, after all, and rules are Aneristic Illusions. The most archetypically non-binary thing we can do is come up with rules of our own and cycle through them however we see fit.