Lesbigays in

Germanic Paganism

 

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(Reprinted from "Rainbow Wind" Magazine)

This may not be a very easy article to write. For one thing, there is not a great deal of surviving evidence on the matter at hand. This is in sharp contrast to the relatively large amount of Lesbigay-relevant information surviving from Classical Paganism (Greek and Roman, don't say "Greco-Roman" or Sophia X Pharou may really come after you with that Labrys of hers, she's half Greek and doesn't like the Romans, althought she will eat their pizza - you have been warned - you have been warned). (Editor's note: the Romans did not invent pizza; the tomato hadn't been introduced yet - therefore, there are plenty of reasons to like the Italians - especially Sicily, colonized by the Greeks - but not the Romans!) There are other factors also. There is a definite right-wing, homophobic nut fringe on the edges of Germanic Paganism. Fortunately, the vast majority of the community isn't like that at all, and there is a great deal of participation by openly Lesbigay and Transgendered individuals, as I mentioned in my article in the previous edition of this publication. Also, there were elements of homophobia in the very warlike, "macho" Viking period, which is when most of the material we have dates from. Earlier (and later) periods were mellower. Scandinavia today is one of the best places on Earth to be Lesbigay, and Scandinavian tolerance and civility go pretty far back. Draconian anti-gay laws typical for the rest of Europe for the most part were far milder or absent altogether there.

Now might be a good time to discuss Viking-age and medieval Scandinavian attitudes toward gay sex (remember, the concept of "sexual orientation" goes back only to the late 19th century). In a nutshell: sex between women seems to have been ignored entirely (sorry ladies), as far as surviving legal documents and literature are concerned. The attitude toward male sexuality was similar to that found today in traditional Hispanic culture. Pardon my bluntness, but as long as you were a "top" you could have sex with anybody or anything you pleased without social censure. "Bottom" guys tended to be looked down on as "unmanly". Vikings, by the way, often raped their male as well as their female captives! Their society had rather rigidly defined sex roles, and all this seems to have had more to do with power, control and misogyny than with homophobia per se. Interestingly enough and in spite of all this, Viking Age Heathen women still had far more rights than their female contemporaries living in Christian and Islamic countries!

As far as I can tell, the commonest place for Lesbigay and Transexual-identified persons (the surgery didn't exist back in those days) was in the worship of the Vanir, one of the two families of intermarried Norse Gods (the other being the Aesir). The Vanir are the more Earth- and fertility- oriented of the two families. This tendency for Lesbigay Heathens to gravitate toward the Vanir was not only true back in the "old days" but seems to still hold today. Why all these gay people in a fertility cult? It doesn't seem to make sense at first, but on closer examination it is pretty logical. For one thing, they evidently did rituals in which sex was a key part. The "hobby hoss" Beltaine parades still performed in the British Isles with their transvestite 'Betsies' (as seen in the film/book "The Wicker Man") may be a remnant of these, by the way! Please note that ancient and medieval Germanic Heathens sank their human sacrifices in bogs consecrated to the Vanir instead of burning them in a wicker man. Today, we substitute baked doughboys for the human victims of yesteryear. Sex, as most of you already know, can raise a great deal of magickal energy, and since gay sex can't make babies, all that energy is available for something else - like blessing the crops, healing, etc. The priests of Ingvi Freyr (my patron God and One of the Vanir) scandalized Christian missionaries with their crossdressing, bells on their dresses, and effeminate gestures. You can bet your ritual robe that they were at the very top of the Christians' hit list once they took over and "converted" the country, which is another reason relatively little is known about all this! Vanir worship is also associated with intuitive, shamanic-type workings, called seidhr in Old Norse. In the Viking Age, seidhr was seen as "unmanly" and done mostly be women and by men who today would be considered gay or bisexual. Freya, a Vanir Goddess, discovered it and taught it to Odin, an Aesir God. Odin was seen (despite being the "Allfather" and having strong associations with warfare) as being of somewhat suspect masculinity. I'm a seidhmadhr (seidh-man) and I have observed that being female, Lesbigay and/or Transgendered is a plus when doing this sort of work. Straight guys can do it too, but it seems to be a bit harder for them! This should be no surprise, since in a great many cultures, there was/is a much larger percentage of Lesbigays and Transgendered folks among their shamans than in their general population. By the way, folks seriously interested in learning oracular seidhr (a group shamanic working where all involved do a guided journey to the gates of Hel, the realm of the Dead, the Deep Unconcious and the abode of much wisdom, and there wait while the Guide sends a seer/ess through the gates to answer questions put to him/her by the group) should email me and I'll forward your name and address to my teachers, Diana L. Paxson and Laurel Olsen, who do some correspondence teaching (for the cost of photocopies only) and do workshops at very reasonable prices (we're talking $50, not $500) around the country. I do teach oracular seidhr but only in person in Lexington, Kentucky USA as that's all I have the time to do. Fear not, all this is amply warded, under the patronage/protection of Freya and Odin, and we do guide you back and help you ground when we're done! It's the safest necromancy you'll ever do, and all our dead people are volunteers, and haven't asked for anything in return but the pleasure of our company and the bit of energy we give them.

As you can see, there is plenty of room and welcome in the Germanic Community for Lesbigay and Transgendered folks, so if these are the Gods and Goddesses who are calling you, welcome aboard! Most of this information in this article came from the following two sources, and I heartily recommend them both: 1. The massive Our Troth, published by the Ring of Troth, on whose High Rede I serve; please see the link to The Troth's website later in this article; most of Our Troth is online (and free) and linked from there.  More specifically, from the chapter of that book entitled "Fro Ing", which is another name for Freyr. The chapter on Fro Ing was written by Helgi T. Dagsson, William Conrad Karpen, and Eric Wodening. Our Troth is slightly over 700 pp. long.  You need this book if you're seriously interested in our path. 2. The Ostara 1995 edition of Idunna, the magazine of the The Troth (there may be back issues available, and there are several very good articles on this and related topics, although Diana L. Paxson's "Sex, Status, and Seidh: Homosexuality in Germanic Religion" is the one to which I am specifically referring). You can subscribe to Idunna for $20 in the USA, and may also join The Troth for no extra charge when you subscribe. See The Troth web page. The Troth does not discriminate based on race, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc.

 

Jordsvin

Created by Chandonn and Jordsvin

all works used by permission of the authors

last modified 07/20/2003