Many modern Neo-Pagan denominations feel that in comparison to “patriarchal” male-deity-only majority faiths, they are being exceptionally liberal to have a Lord and Lady figure (in the case of Wiccan and Wiccan-derived groups) or both male and female deities (in the case of eclectic, reconstructionist, and reconstructionist-derived groups). While it’s certainly an improvement, a separate duality is still a separate duality. When Gods with third-gender characteristics are trotted out with their gender-transgressive natures in the forefront, duality-protectors wince. That’s a metaphor, they say. Symbolic. Hermaphroditic and androgynous Gods are an abstract concept of bridging male and female; they don’t embody anything real and physical that can be touched, unlike “real” bodies that are, it is assumed, only male or female.
But it isn’t abstract for me, not one little bit. It is as real and concrete as the body I look at in the mirror. It is my reality. I am the Sacred Third when I am taking out the trash, when I am renewing my driver’s license, when I am standing in line at the deli. I, and others like me . . . and there are more people like me every year. We will be slowly challenging people’s narrow conceptions of gender (human and divine) in many religions, but Neo-Paganism, which already has more than a solely masculine or abstractly asexual conception of deity, is first in line for the shapeshifting. We come bearing a spiritual perspective that casts an entirely different light on the weary war between the “two” sexes, and we believe that the monogendered majority might even be able to learn something from us.
“We are all sacred,” I tell the others of my tribe, the ones who live Between. I am the shaman of their tribe, and I tell them of their sacredness, not in spite of but because of what they are. Many are damaged from living in this society that is so abusive to our kind. Some have been genitally mutilated as children, some have been abused for being what they are, some have been abandoned by family or assaulted or denied housing or jobs or kind medical care. For some, hearing this makes the difference between choosing to live and choosing to die. “We are all embodiments of the Sacred Third,” I tell them, and they hear, and they spread the word. Someday you will all believe it as well.