I’ve had this image of a Goddess in my head for a few weeks now. She came to me in the midst of a Beltaine fire. The only name for Her I have is the Horned Goddess. She is – one of Her breasts has scars/marks on it; it has both been removed and built at the same time. The other is untouched. Her genitals are of indeterminate gender, female, but also male, and neither at the same time. But She has wide hips and a feminine appearance, as well as large stag antlers on Her head. She wanted me to draw Her; which I managed, I think, in this sketch. (NSFW; She is naked, after all.) (Black background is for contrast; it’s not a great scan.)
She is some sort of transgendered Goddess, some sort of strange forest Goddess who seems to embrace all sorts of forms of Femininity, not just those who have been born female. (I suspect She may be a bit more queer than just female, but I have nothing to support this at the moment.) I find Her incredibly intriguing, and I don’t know if She’s a totally new Goddess, or an older Goddess in disguise. But She keeps on hanging around on the fringes of my mind, and I have no idea what She might want. That She came to me in connection with Beltaine, the one Sabbat I find very hard to get my head around as a genderqueer pagan, I don’t think is a coincidence.
I am not sure why I am talking about Her now. I had meant to talk about other things. This entry was going to be about other things, but She looms so much in my mind now that it is impossible to talk about anything else. Perhaps it is the fallout from PantheaCon that has made me think about actual transgendered Deities, with scars and transgendered bodies. Certainly the concept of transgendered Gods with transgendered bodies has come up in some of the PantheaCon discussions, and I admit I was rather struck by the idea. It had not quite occurred to me that queer Gods didn’t have to just be old Gods; they could be new Gods with transgendered bodies, the way we recognise them. With scars and everything else that entails.
I had intended for this post to reflect on gender, queerness and the Gods, in the sense of how gender in any way reflects on the Divine. But I’m not sure now. Certainly, I think the Gods use forms that are familiar to us, that we will recognise, if They are seeking to get our attention. The Titan Muses did that with me, appearing in forms I was more familiar with so I would recognise Them. But this has the added dimension of not actually being able to find any historical images of the Three at all, so I have no face for Them. Any image I use for the three Muses now will have to be contemporary because I have nothing else.
But I don’t really see the Muses as being particularly corporeal, nor even particularly gendered either. I am not sure this isn’t just my thing where Gods will tend to show more genderqueerness with me than with others, to show me a face I will more likely recognise and relate to. My genderqueerness does reflect how I see things, even down to the creation of the Universe, so in some ways, I’m not surprised that I keep seeing this side of the Gods.
But in some ways, I’m not even surprised They can do this. I’ve never particularly thought Gods had very strict genders anyway. While I certainly believe that Creator Gods in particular are allgendered/agendered/other-gendered, which my own personal creation myth reflects, with these Gods made up of all the diversity in the Universe, perhaps other Gods have some of this quality to Them too, even if They aren’t strictly Creator Gods.
I mean, Aset is not exactly known as a Creator Deity, but even She has this side to Her, though I rarely get to see it. She is a shapeshifter. I sometimes suspect I see Her shapeshifting in the faces of all the Goddesses She introduces me to. She has referred to Them as different faces of Her, all different aspects of Aset. But even though I would never refer to Her as anything other than Female, there are times when this is such an inadequate description I can’t use the term at all. She goes beyond it, far beyond it. I think it’s Her shapeshifting that gives Her this quality. She can become anything She wants/needs to be.
I’ve always found Djehuty interesting in this regard, too. It would feel wrong to use anything other than male pronouns for Him, but He has a very androgynous energy about Him. He never feels … male. Or even masculine, insomuch as those terms can be used to describe Gods without it being weird. But what’s even weirder is that I’m not the only one who experiences Him this way, which makes me think it’s more a part of His nature than just a face He shows me. He’s a Creator God, but I see Him as more or less asexual. Insomuch as that sort of language can be applied to a God. He has a very gentle and quiet sort of masculinity.
Sobek, too, has this genderqueerness about Him. He is a Creator God, but He also has a nurturing side as well as a protective side. They are … kind of gendered? But not explicitly. Just – it’s more based on the sort of energy each side has. It’s more sensation than a strict gender.
I don’t know. Perhaps it’s a crocodile thing, but I really do love everything about saltwater crocs. They care for their young and tend the nests. They carry their babies in their mouths to take them to the water. Fuck it, they’re the only reptiles with a true four-chambered heart. It’s that caring side that I see in Sobek, too. I often feel like His fearsome reputation is misplaced because He is just so caring and gentle. Protective, yes. Has a fierce temper, yes. But Sobek tended to the young Heru-sa-Aset in the marshes. He sang Him lullabies. And He’s my Father. He cares for me as He cared for Heru. He’s the most beautiful God I’ve ever had the honour to meet. (But I’ll save this for later; then you will get a 5k word tl;dr post just about Sobek. :D)
I look at that and find there isn’t much point in trying to give gender to the Gods in any meaningful way. It is helpful to us to help us comprehend Them, but it’s not going to be a true picture. I sometimes think that every God is agendered/allgendered/other-gendered; it’s just that humanity is so unused to dealing with those sort of Gods that other gendered expressions are required so we might recognise Them when we see Them. They choose forms that we’re most likely to recognise, whether that lines up with traditional imagery or not.
It’s really interesting working with Gods that have no image, such as Amun, and the Titan Muses, to a certain extent. Amun is the Hidden One, and His form is unknowable. Apart from using male pronouns for Him, His gender is unimportant. But He is a Creator God, and I’ve always felt He embodied all genders anyway. He’s one of the only Gods who I would never buy an icon for either; His form is Hidden. What is the point of an image? Which image would you even choose anyway? An empty box would be more suitable for Him, I think.
And then I keep thinking back to this Horned Goddess and the idea of actually seeing transgendered bodies reflected in the Divine. And even if I’m more genderqueer than interested in changing my body, it’s weirdly comforting to have that image, to know the Gods can embrace someone like me and other gender diverse people. It doesn’t necessarily make the Gods any easier to comprehend, I’ll add, because I think it just complicates it. There are more layers to contemplate.
But even I stumble. Even I let my gender baggage get in the way of interacting with Gods. Hethert and Aphrodite are big ones for me. I’ve never quite been able to connect to Them because They’re just too female for me, and I must admit to falling into the ‘love goddess’ frame and not really seeing Them for Who they really are. Even I struggle with that, to not put the Gods into boxes and experience Them as They present Themselves to me.
That said, I think I’m having more luck with Aphrodite than with Hethert. The more I read about Hir, the more I like Hir. I’ve sort of always had a feeling She had more to Hir than most people thought. But I hadn’t quite grokked it until now. I haven’t approached Hir yet, though, because I have nothing to approach Hir with. But I’m so new to working with Greek deities that it may take me a while to get there. I’m learning a whole new culture, and that’s taking some adjustment. New ways of seeing Gods, of doing rituals, writing hymns, there’s a lot that’s actually different to the Kemetic way I’m used to.
I don’t know if Hethert is the same though. It might take me a bit longer to get to Her. I have a niggling feeling there’s a reason I’m avoiding Her, but I honestly couldn’t tell you what it is. Perhaps I’ll find out if/when I ever decide I’m ready to approach Her.
But if I’m honest, Aset is pretty much the only Goddess I’ve ever had in my life. She’s introduced me to other Deities, sure, but She’s always come first. In some weird way, I think even Hekate is connected to Her, even though it was Sobek who fostered me off to Her. I think it’s through Isis, in the Aset-Nut/Isis-Hekate sort of way. /head asplodes.
But I digress. There are probably things I haven’t covered that I meant to cover. I’ve probably rambled on about things I probably didn’t need to go into. But my approach to blogging has always been take a topic and write and see where you end up at the end of it, and this seems to be where I’m at now, talking about Goddesses. But as WordPress informs me that this post is already approaching 1800 words, perhaps now is a good time to stop.