Female and male energy is arguably at the heart of everyday life and modern paganism. In today’s world, this dichotomy seems to be making less and less sense. How can we reconcile the characteristics of gender and sex within our practice with our increased awareness of the flexibility and fluidity of the two? What about moving beyond stereotypical gender roles in our practice?
The Chalice and the Blade
The Wicca I remember from years ago fully adopted the idea of separate female and male energy, culminating in the beloved chalice and blade symbolism. Back in the day I was enamored with the idea of The Great Rite. The whole approach seemed so romantic – everything sorted into separate categories for female and male energy coming together to complete everything. Of course, masculine energy was projective and female was receptive. Or so I used to think.
The Problem of Gender Essentialism
In particular, we need to get over gender essentialism in paganism. I’m not talking about biological sex differences because there are a few actual ones – females can reproduce, for example. Many of the other ones we’ve heard about are based on shoddy research or weak correlations. I’m advocating for doing away with the idea that gender roles are innate, you know that male energy is aggressive while female energy is nurturing. You know who advanced these ideas? Usually men. For thousands upon thousands of years. Enough already.
Female and Male Energy at Home
Theses are some of the reasons that I put the duality of female/male on my schedule for my exploring balance project. Another reason is that I wanted to have dedicated thinking time for considering female and male energy in my home. I’m a single mom with two sons, both of whom live with me all the time.
I would say that both of my boys have many stereotypical male traits: they play guitar and video games, and one of them is quite messy. However, I don’t think of these things as being male. They are their personal interests and attributes, that’s all. But, should I revisit my deconstruction of feminine and masculine energy in order to be a better mother? I thought about that a lot over the past week. My conclusion is that it’s always better to see a person as an individual rather than lumping them into a broad category.
The Problem with Using Female and Male Energy in Magick
Back to the idea of masculine and feminine energy. I explored this quite a bit once I settled down from my rant. If I want to explore aggressive or nurturing energy, what good does it do for me to broaden it into the categories of female and male? Think about it. In magick, we need to be as specific as possible. If I’m doing a spell and utilize something as multi-faceted and broad as “feminine” energy, how could I expect to get my desired results?
I understand the metaphor of using female and male energies, but I simply don’t think they really hold up anymore. Why can’t we just call a chalice a chalice?
I actually do call a chalice a chalice. And perhaps I shouldn’t be commenting on Wicca or other stripes of Paganism that use female and male energy (that is define along social constructed gender roles). After all, I’ve been a goddess-loving warrior all my life.
My Male Energy Situation
My social world consists of other goddess-lovers, and a variety of genders in all their glorious shades. If I lack any type of person in my social network, it would be that of a more traditional male type. I’ve kind of created a nice little world where gender doesn’t matter that “traditional” men don’t fit into. There’s a reason for this, although it doesn’t seem like a very good one now. If you’re curious, you can read all about it here.
Beyond my family and social scene, my devotion and witchery doesn’t include male energy, either. Hmmmm. A statue of Cernnunos landed on my coffee table on the Winter Solstice. While he’s lovely to look at, I don’t feel any sort of connection to him.
I Just Don’t Get Male GodsThen there’s my angelic spirit guide who is actually still my beloved Uncle Lucky, except now he’s revealed himself as the true Angel of Light that he is. As I’m writing this, I don’t feel connected to him, either. Let me tell you, I’ve been contemplating my lack of male energy for the past week. I haven’t gotten anywhere. This goes beyond my spirit guide situation. In spite of my Evangelical Christian upbringing (or maybe because of it), I have never, ever been able to conceive of a male god let alone have any sort of relationship with one. There was this one moment on a mountain top when I sort of glimpsed a male god about four years ago. That’s it.
From now on, I am going to attempt to connect with Uncle Lucky and Cernnunos as individuals with a set of characteristics rather than as males. This is how I relate to my sons and people in my social circle. I’m going to add this to my daily spiritual practice for a few weeks. If I can get somewhere with this approach, maybe I’ll try it out on a few actual human men. I’ll report back.
Hekate and Female/Male Energy
My beloved guide, Uncle Lucky, is actually Lucifer, that light bringing angel. I’m not the only devotee to Hekate that has a close relationship with Lucifer. Some call him Lumiel, I’ve even heard him referred to as Big Lu (I love that!). While the origin of Hekate’s association with Lucifer isn’t entirely clear – it perhaps grew out of Dianic witchcraft – Her connections to some other male deities are well documented in the ancient texts. In particular, Hekate is linked to Zeus, Hermes, Janus, and Mercury. Moreover, in The Chaldean Oracles, Hekate as Soteira (Savior) is seen as the companion to a male god.
Zeus gave Hekate dominion over land, sea, and sky and sort of bowed down to Her. In The Eleusinian Mysteries, Hermes helped Persephone alongside Hekate. I wrote about Her association with Janus a few weeks ago. I also talked about Her connection to Mercury when I constructed the Modern Hekatean Witchcraft Wheel of the Year. There are many representations of Hekate’s connection with these deities found in ancient magickal coins, too.
Me and Mercury
I’ve never felt any compulsion towards any of these deities besides Mercury, who is a dominant figure in my astrological chart in his planetary form. In fact, when I was constructing my contemplation altar that I write about below, Mercury showed up. I sent an image of the preliminary altar to a dear friend (really, she’s one of my muses) who asked me where Mercury was. Spontaneously, I replied that he was sitting on my shoulder. She said that he was telling her that he needed to be included in my altar. Immediately, I got the goosies – she was speaking the truth! It’s Mercury that’s drawn on the chunk of wood in the middle. Mercury transcends gender in many ways, so it makes sense that he came forward as I was mentally deconstructing traditional thinking about female and male energy.
Like Mercury, Hekate transcends traditional gender roles. Although She is Mother of All, Hekate is also fierce and strong. She was invoked to protect soldiers in battle. She may be maternal, but not always in the cuddly way. Hekate is more like an ass-kicking life coach of a mother, at least in my experience.
Finding Balance in the Remains
We’re living in a time when so much about femininity and masculinity are being called into question, so it’s no wonder that there’s such upheaval all around us. It used to make sense to see the world along the divisions of female and male, but this mindset doesn’t fit that well in contemporary life – not in society, or relationships, or even in magick. As gender constructs come tumbling down, we can take this as an opportunity to find balance what is revealed. When we demolish socially constructed gender roles, what remains are the underlying characteristics – like aggression or nurturance – rather than in outdated ways of thinking in life and in magick.