Articles/Essays From Pagans
May 19th. 2013 ...
The Role of Identity in Magic
Talking Trash? It's a Dirty Subject but Waste Happens.
My Wiccan Journey
13 Keys: The Victory of Netzach
May 12th. 2013 ...
Pagan Studies I: How Should We Define Modern Paganism?
The Third Path
Nothing Special... Part Two
May 5th. 2013 ...
The Value of Multicultural Awareness
Put Your Back Into It (Our Lady of the Sacred Honey Badger)
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances and Red Lipped Bat Fish
April 28th. 2013 ...
Lessons from the Lessers: Iris
April 21st. 2013 ...
Taken By The Goddess: The Crescent Moon Tattoo
The Gods/Being Godbothered
To Be A Witch
The Archetypes are Gods: Re-godding the Archetypes
April 14th. 2013 ...
On The Inclusion of Children
'Wand Fun' With Grandson
Lessons from a Baby
Lessons of Freedom: On Divinity and Healing
April 7th. 2013 ...
Out of the Broom Closet... Sorta
A Journey Through the Witches Tarot
History and Science Behind Numerology
March 31st. 2013 ...
What is the Magickal Self?
Ethics and Numerology
March 24th. 2013 ...
Keystones of the Sacred Land
March 17th. 2013 ...
Why Some Pagans and Witches Still Hide
Witch Heritage 101: What Happens When Witch Haters Joke about anti-Witch Films
I'm Not a Broom. So What's with the Closet?
March 10th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Things I Did as a New Pagan: Part 3
Hunting for the Real Witch in Film
The Collective Shadow
Lies - The Opposite of Truth
March 3rd. 2013 ...
Grounding and Releasing Negative Energy
A Patchwork of Magick
February 24th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Mistakes I Made as a New Pagan (Part Two)
February 17th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Mistakes I made as a New Pagan... Part One
Gardening with Crystal Energies
A Call from the Ancestors
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances and Black Water Snakes
February 10th. 2013 ...
We Are the Weirdos, Mister: A Completely Uncool Story of Origin
February 3rd. 2013 ...
"I'll Grind Your Bones to Make my Bread": Pagans and Animal Husbandry
The Role of Contemporary Culture in Magic
A Pagan Response to Endangered Earth
The Great Mother's Gift, Heinlein, and the Nature of Squirrels
13 Keys: The Glory of Hod
January 27th. 2013 ...
Why We Do Need Wicca
The Cosmos In the Coffee Shop
On Travel Spirituality and Magick
January 20th. 2013 ...
Beloved Backs and How to Save Them
Building or Burning Bridges?
Plants, Magic and Intuition
Plagiarism - How It Harms Our Community
January 13th. 2013 ...
Ramblings of a Pagan Guy: Stupid Clichés
The Magick and Power of Words
Aging Is Not Easy
The Riddle of Who We Are?
January 6th. 2013 ...
Wicca v Witchcraft
A Witch in the Closet
How Many People Can You Fit Under An Umbrella?
Gut Hunches, Mouse Dreams, and Pinkie Sense
December 30th. 2012 ...
Ritual "Cheat Sheet" Bracelet
Magick is All Around Us
Confessions of a Living Satyr
A Tiny Bit of Belly Dance History
December 23rd. 2012 ...
The Warrior Goddess and You.
World Change: A Message from Greece
What's the Meaning of Life, Anyway?
My Brother's Keeper
December 16th. 2012 ...
Keeping Christ in Xmas
Love is the Law
Listen to Your Heart's Wisdom
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Upon the Paradox of Solitary Practice Within a Fertility Tradition
Article ID: 12565
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,718
Times Read: 2,582
RSS Views: 28,107
Author: Grey Glamer
Posted: September 7th. 2008
Times Viewed: 2,582
If the practice of Witchcraft teaches us anything, the lesson is this: The cosmos which you and I share is one filled with paradoxes both subtle and breathtaking. One cannot be a walker between the worlds without simultaneously feeling the tension or dissonance between certain seemingly incompatible concepts. Is the Divine many beings, or one alone? Are we the children of an ever-turning wheel, or are we fundamentally eternal?
The reflective Witch understands that such questions are a matter of perspective – by which I mean not the indifference of relativism, but rather, the acceptance that Truth with a capital T transcends our idiosyncratic conceptual frameworks.
Since our ways of being within the world preclude dispensing with such frameworks, though, the best thing we can do is explore those frameworks that shed light, however indirectly, upon Truth. To employ one metaphor from my study of astronomy: One cannot stare directly into the sun without going blind, but one can employ a telescope that projects the image of the sun onto another surface, which we can study. Just don’t mistake the image for the real thing, and don’t assume the image you perceive though your telescope constitutes the only valid image.
Those who walk between the worlds enjoy the perspective through many such telescopes. For the practicing Witch, the Divine can be both many and one, simultaneously. We walk among the changing seasons and the turning of Lady Luna, and still we share eternity. At heart, magic is the celebration of paradox, the dance among different ways of touching that ineffable Truth which lies just beyond our ordinary ken.
So when quite recently I encountered yet another paradox of faith, my inner Witch became excited. I’ve been reading T. Thorn Coyle’s Evolutionary Witchcraft, a glimpse into the Feri Tradition that Coyle follows, and in the third chapter she draws a distinction between ecstatic and fertility traditions. For Coyle, an ecstatic tradition like her own Feri develops and celebrates both feminine and masculine energies within the individual practitioner. Continuing Coyle’s analysis, the fertility traditions conversely explore sexual polarity between woman and man, prescribing distinct roles and spiritual mysteries based on gender.
By way of disclaimer, I haven’t made any pronounced study into those tenets held by the Feri faith – Goddess knows, I haven’t even finished Coyle’s excellent book yet! Moreover, while I consider myself Wiccan, mine is the very eclectic, very idiosyncratic strain of Witchcraft that comes from years of solitary practice. Nevertheless, I do consider myself an heir, however unapparent, to the ancient fertility traditions that contemporary Wicca embraces.
Coyle’s fundamental argument here, that every human being contains both their own physical gender and the complementary gender, resonates deeply with my own feelings upon the subject of sexual polarity. Consequently, I find myself wondering whether my own spiritual path leans more ecstatic or fertility. To be sure, the question can quickly descend into semantics.
Employing the definitions proposed by Coyle, I could say that I actually follow an ecstatic path. By my own reckoning, my path remains fertility-oriented, simply because I myself conceive (I pray the attentive reader will also be charitable and forgive the pun!) the union of feminine and masculine as first and foremost a fertility mystery, whether such union occurs within one single soul or among many.
The critical reader may charge that resolving the tension between “ecstatic” and “fertility” in this way constitutes semantics, pure and simple, and speaking candidly, reducing an argument to semantics isn’t particularly satisfying. To be true unto my starting proposition, as Witch I’m perfectly free to dance between both paradigms, yet dancing means really setting foot within both perspectives, without retreating into the easy refuge of relativism.
Furthermore, stepping on either side of this question raises a deeper question regarding spiritual practice: Excepting the fortunate androgyne, can the solitary practitioner of any fertility tradition ever unlock more than half the puzzle?
Physiologically and psychologically speaking, I am male, though I recognize and honor both feminine and masculine energies within myself. To borrow one example: Being a solitary Witch of the male persuasion, can I invoke Lady Luna during the Esbat Circle? In more traditional language, can male Witches Draw Down the Moon? Coven I have none, so whenever I recuse myself from ritual, that ritual doesn’t happen, period. I may enjoy something of a head start with those spiritual mysteries surrounding the Lord, yet the task of honoring the Lady I bear with equal weight. Speaking strictly for myself, my faith demands I walk with both Lady and Lord.
So what’s a solitary Witch to do?
In fact, I do invoke Lady Luna during my Esbat Circle. To omit DDtM because I lack certain genitalia would be tantamount to neglecting the very Goddess who made me the way I am, and again speaking strictly for myself, such an omission would be erring upon the wrong side.
Even if I were part of a mixed-gender coven, and the presence or absence of a priestess not relevant practically, on an abstract level the separation of spiritual roles by gender still runs afoul of my infamous “deserted island” test.
Phrased at its most basic, the question is this: If I were to be stranded on a deserted island, with no human companionship and no complex technology, would this spiritual practice remain possible and meaningful. If no, then that practice bears further scrutiny. (After all you never know when you might find yourself stranded on a deserted island!)
I’m aware that bridge-building and communion-type exercises fail to satisfy this inquiry, and I certainly don’t mean to suggest that community is irrelevant, nor do I propose letting religious pursuits descend into narcissism. By the same token, you never really know where the journey may lead, or what company you’ll be keeping when you arrive, so having a faith that can adapt to the vicissitudes life brings bears some merit.
To insist upon the division of spiritual roles by physical gender – saying that only women can invoke the Lady or explore Her mysteries, or that only men can invoke the Lord or learn His ways – unfairly handicaps solitary practitioners, to say nothing of those covens, which are single-sex by design or by circumstance.
I don’t presume to judge those traditions, which link the study of certain mysteries with one physical gender or another. I do believe that we, as Witches, have a duty to honor one another – and ourselves – as individuals who are both whole and beautiful. To do any less would deny the enchantment woven throughout the cosmos we share.
May you walk with both Lady and Lord. Blessed Be!
Coyle, T. Thorn. Evolutionary Witchcraft. New York: Tarcher/Penguin, 2004.
Location: Athens, Georgia
Author's Profile: To learn more about Grey Glamer - Click HERE
Other Articles: Grey Glamer has posted 7 additional articles- View them?
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
Email Grey Glamer... (No, I have NOT opted to receive Pagan Invites! Please do NOT send me anonymous invites to groups, sales and events.)
Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2013 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.
Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh G5.
Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections (including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wrenâ€™s Nest, etc.) are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witchesâ€™ Voice, Inc. TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.
Sponsorship: Visit the Witches' Voice Sponsor Page for info on how you
can help support this Community Resource. Donations ARE Tax Deductible.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.
Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
of The World
NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.
All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).