Tuesday, August 16, 2011

We are all Brothers of the Sun and Daughers of the Moon!

In my neck of the woods, in my circle of friends who are Pagan that are scattered across the United States the hottest “topic” of debate was usually the role of males in Paganism.  It would make women irritable, because they felt they were defending Goddess and had come to the religion in the first place so that they could be more “empowered”.  Me, and my girlfriends felt that in the “real” workplace/political world we were “not listened too” and treated as “less than” and that if you really wanted to insult a man you called him “a girl" (or vaginistic type words a few months ago I saw this used by advertisers on a billboard to get men to buy a sportscar).  My male friends, however, would argue that the world had changed to the point where they could hardly get jobs and that the world we described was not”real” or “had leveled out” leaving them competing against minorities for everything; they did not feel that they should have that same “bias” in their religious choices.  So there was a gridlock…since the Highpriestess is what runs covens (unless you are involved in an organization that still venerates male over female) and since Goddess books there are aplenty and God books few my male Pagan friends felt they got the short end of the stick.

For years, when I was younger I would think," If you all feel this way then why come to this religion if you resent women running it?  Go somewhere else, any other religion will let you run everything if you are male and not even let females become ministers!"  However, the wheel turned and  I started to hear with spirit filled ears, and listen with a spirit filled heart and realize that maybe just maybe they (my male friends and even my young son) had a few valid points.  So, when I returned to Memphis once again I started to listen and the same points came up.  Males saw all the women rituals that excluded them, the Goddess retreats and felt that they had nothing equivalent.  They were being asked to participate and be “better” men than most of society but were not being treated “fairly”.  When questions of rites of passage for men came up they were told they were “not important” and that “why should they need them?”.  Some leaders of the organizations went as far as to say that the “separation of the two sexes” was silly anyway, and that it promoted more problems than solutions.  Yet, everywhere I listened I heard them hurt and hungry for something more and  “just for them” they wanted to also leave behind a legacy of "new Pagan men".

As a woman I understand the need for “just for me”.  I read Virginia Wolf’s “A Room of One’s Own” while in college and firmly decided from that point on in life I would make a space and time for just me because it was important.  Goddess devotional books, and companion readers emphasize over and over again how important it is for women who give so liberally to husbands, parents, children, and their bosses to make a space and time for themselves.  So women started forming little groups, or girl nights out, or pampering sessions, by now I have not met a woman my age who does not have a “just me” hobby, activity, or time that helps her get back in touch with her inner Goddess.  This is wonderful, it is liberating, it is empowering, it was not heard of in my Mamaw’s day and time unless you were rich!

But what about men who take care of their children, wives, bosses, friends, and families?  The numbers are growing on how many men raise children alone and how are young men going to learn how to be comfortable and not defensive being a "man" (and no that is not a bad word) if they do not have role models, and mentors, and become more open minded?  What if you do not think the perfect time to spend with men is in a Budweiser commercial at the Drag races? I know this is an extreme example but here in the south it is quite common…what if you like to read poetry, and play music, and paint, or just meditate and contemplate the universe?  Where do we encourage this in our modern day society?  Why is it okay for the woman to get in touch with her inner maiden with “hello kitty” houseshoes but the man cannot get in touch with his inner “rogue” playing video games or buying star wars collectibles? 

I say this because you get a group of women together and more often than not you will hear references to men…just being more immature than women.  That men, waste money on toys and don’t seem to care about childrearing like we do.  It is like we women, force men into a role that they themselves might not want to be pushed into.  If women do not like to be “cookie cuttered” then why is it okay for us to force “traditional” roles on men?  I realize that in my marriage, I have to stop and re-acquaint myself with my gentle father- husband all the time because I have pre-conceived stereotypes that were fed to me by my parents and society that told me Brian has to be XYZ.  However, he is not those things.  To add to this, I have a compassionate soft spoken artistic twenty year old son who has expressed himself through clothing and words since he could articulate his mind.  His ambiguity when it comes to sexual roles worried me at first, only to find me expanding and realizing that sexual roles are just that ”costumes” and that one size does not fit all.

Did you know that I do not hear my baby Cayden cry in the middle of the night?  My husband does, and no he does not wake me up to take care of him he gets up cuddles and swaddles his son and rocks him back to sleep.  Did you know that he has taken Cayden to the doctor alone more than me because if he does this I have time to color my hair and do my nails?  He does that so I have ME time.  Now, you can say that means I am a “less than mom” and he is a “better than dad” but I will argue with you we are doing what works for us as people and as a family unit.  We have gotten to the point where doing what we are, is more important than what others think.  My husband really has longed for a Pagan Men’s retreat for a long time now.  Last year, he finally got a “fathering ritual” at the age of forty. He has two other children from a previous marriage, one twenty one the other twenty two and he has been a practicing pagan and a Highpriest for at least twenty years. That is took him that long to get this rite of passage I found dumbfounding and sad.

This weekend, he and my oldest son are going to a Pagan Men’s retreat called Brothers of the Sun < http://templeofthesacredgift.org/bots/info.html>  our church , Temple of the Sacred Gift-ATC is co-sponsoring it with the only Pagan’s we knew in the area that celebrated the Male aspect of Paganism as much as the Female aspect, Southern Delta Church of Wicca-ATC.  Rev. Terry Michael Riley has since 1993 been a legal ordained minister of the Pagan community with a Church.  He fought for the rights of Pagans and it was documented in the March for Ft. God video < http://www.amazon.com/March-Robin-Anderson-Cuhulain-Terry/dp/B00023DEH6/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1313519927&sr=1-2 >.  He is a pioneer and courageous in ways I can only hope to become and yet for several years now in the woods he has continued to have a small men’s mysteries retreat.

Two years ago, when I met Rev. Terry Riley he told me he had a manuscript lying around that he had not gotten published but rejected everywhere he turned, and that he was ready to give up on since no one seemed interested.  I asked him the topic, and he told me men’s mysteries and the relationship of Men to the God and the Goddess energies.  I could not believe that he had such an important book tucked away and that no one wanted to publish it!  So I asked him to look at it and edit it and I would study on how to get it published, I knew in my bones it was important and like everyone I know I love helping people.  I formed a self publishing company (Heka House), took my income tax refund and published the book named aptly BROTHERS OF THE SUN: THE PAGAN MEN”S MYSTERIES (hey it is a great book you should read it and purchase it for every male pagan you know!).  We (Terry, Brian and I) felt the book was integral to the future of Paganism and addressed a common complaint that was never addressed and always ignored.  I have never been prouder than to help assist a person publish something I feel was important.  I have never felt more amazed to realize that with helping fund a Men’s Pagan retreat in a nice facility that we are starting a rock solid tradition we can leave behind to future generations.

If we, the women, do not back our men then who will?  Is the consort not just as important as the Goddess?  You bet he is!  I pray that this Brother of the Sun retreat will help heal some of the wounds caused in this community by not treating our the male energy as "equal to" not "greater than" the female energy.  I pray that it starts a legacy that teaches and instructs our men on how to be better at being themselves.  I hope that it helps each of them find a part of themselves they forgot about, that they make new friends and come home exhausted yet refreshed.  Do I believe I finally listened to the universe?  You bet you I did!  Will I ever truly understand what the men in the Pagan community are expressing…maybe not, but I am taking a baby step in the right direction.  That is all I know how to do, and I pray my Brothers give me a break and know I wish them the best! But if you are a male Pagan, and all you do is complain about the differences and do nothing to support a local festival and movement to help your own, then do not complain...hush up.  You cannot complain about the President of the United States if you do not vote!

How do you all feel about the men learning how to be more comfortable being themselves and finding themselves?  How pivotal do you feel this is to men and future men in our Pagan communities? 


  1. It is true that in most covens, it is the high Priestess that has dominion, but not so true in Pagan Churches, or Wiccan churches, as both the masculine and feminine energies (God and Goddess) are revered and held equal in all things at all levels. There is a much needed call toward these balances of 'power' and equality in our respected religions as Pagans. The male entity is so often either 'trying to power' or 'subjective to power'; and the female entity also holds that position of either 'in power' or 'subjective to power'. It is only when we find that balance within ourselves, of the masculine and the feminine energy/entity, can we create that same balance in our community or group, and eventually in our society.
    There are many aspects of the men's mysteries and the Women's mysteries that we all need to take a closer look at, respectfully, and re-engage in our society at large. This starts at the individual level, in our religious study and practice, and in our religious groups in application and education. It is more than 'just a Goddess Religion' it is a religion of Nature, and physical gender is only a reflection of a part of Nature, but it is an important part.
    Once we recognize the individual 'powers' of the masculine and the feminine energy/entity, then we will truly appreciate the combined powers of the God and Goddess, and that of Nature.

  2. @ Sean Bigham I could not have said it better myself. I am really proud that in our little neck of the woods, we now have two retreats...BOS, and DOM.

    Ideally it would be nice if all organizations were equally represented and balanced...however, even in Pagan churches this is not always the case...but our religion is new coming out and being modernized, and I am a patient woman; and young enough to see these changes come to fruition.

    Thank you for the gift of your time Sean

  3. In the Mid-South area, it has been so, on and off for 18 years. But look at the Native American traditions, sweat lodges and moon lodges, both represent the same types of energy (masculine and feminine) and has been a part of those traditions for ever. Pagans, and mostly the new or Neo-pagans, have been adopting these concepts that are centuries old, yet have only been in practice by Pagans and Wiccan for only a few generations at most, so it is brand new to many in our religious practice. Sad really, but it is embraced by most as a needed and mandatory part of our rites of passage as we become the new leaders, new parents and the 'new people' of Earth. From the Old ways we find the New People, and become the foster parents to the next generation, by fostering our concepts and history by rites of passage to the next generations of ancestors to be. How much we, as a people, have forgotten. Let not our children's children forget.

  4. "lest not our children forget." Might be my favorite quote of the week. Sean, you are so right...and once again your eloquence is apt.

  5. It's awesome that there is a retreat like that there!

    I'm wondering if it's something of a regional thing... or perhaps just that I've got limited exposure to the rest of the USA/World experience. Here in the midwest, I've attended several festivals and there seemed to be a definite equality... there were some women-only, some men-only activities and mixed stuff. But... we have strong male pagans from Paganistan and Wisconsin and my own state who take an active role in planning and steering many of these fests and the activities at them.
    Even in the coven I was in for 16 years, the leaders were an high priestess and high priest, equally taking the leadership role (they were married, also). I realize that is not always the case in other covens... but that might be too bad, as the experience of having equal leadership probably gave us an important experience of both God and Goddess as partners.

    I have a question for you? Why do you all use the "reverend" before your names? Does your state require it for ordination/registration of your groups to get "church" status?

  6. In TN and ID ( Rev Sonya in TN, myself in ID) neither have a required registration for church clergy members. Other states, like AR (where I am registered) do have state requirements for church and clergy to be both registered. each state has their own regulations/requirements so when ordination is a question, check with your local county clerks office or your state office for required registration regulations, or not. Not all Pagan or Wiccan Clergy ( those Ordained and Licensed) use the reverend title, but many do as it is an earned title of those who minister in their tradition. I rarely use it as I prefer a simple 'Druid' title or just my name.

  7. @ Michele I use the term Reverend because I was legally ordained by the Aquarian Tabernacle Church in Index, Washington. Also, because our ministers perform the same functions as ministers of any other religion: counseling, funerals, weddings, baby blessings, leading worship. Getting respect and being treated as an "equal to" religion which is what I feel we are, is hard won if you are Pagan or Wiccan. SO, at our church we dress like we are ministers...we use our titles because they help when you go to hospitals, or go to court to witness for someone and because we are trying to push our religion to the forefront and become more "PROUD". We meet with other ministers of other religions, as equals and are working on getting on their boards. Our people have rites of passages yes, but a minister does not just minister to his or her own...she or he ministers to all that the gods send their way.

    That is the mission of my Church and our ministers, but we were taught by some great people to strive for more...and ask for more, and do more. I am a legal minister, I earned the title every day...I would like the same kind of respect a Catholic priest gets when he visits the sick in the hospital, and I feel it helps the religion as a whole. Which is what the ATC ministers and mission is all about!

  8. I only asked to understand it's use better so that I wouldn't misunderstand. :) What does "dress like a minister" mean to you guys?

    Iowa does not require ordination from outside sources (such as a registered church), only that you are ordained by your respective religion. Which in the coven and tradition I was in, is at the 2nd degree initiation. That coven was also members of COG, and COG offers cards that say one is ordained, should I have needed to "prove" ordination, though I never have.

    I've done all the main public ministries except a funeral (marraige, prison, hospital, etc) and was never questioned about my lack of "reverend". Because I've always viewed the word "reverend" to be a christian term and I am not christian so I wouldn't have even consider using it. I never felt a lack in respect from anyone for not having it. But, again, that may be a regional thing! You are in the south and that's a whole 'nother animal!

  9. @ Michele well the men wear priest shirts and collars or blazers with shirts and ties. The women designed their outfits after the Episcopal clergy, or we wear corporate business attire when it is called for.

    In normal ritual for our church, as of right now we dress the part of the God or Goddess priest or Priestess which we are invoking. Thus, when my husband and I do Egyptian work we wear Egyptian robes, if I do a Hindu ritual I wear the same. However, we are working on uniform wear for the five clergy with a tabbard and robes that match so that people who come (since we are open that is many) will know who their ministers are.

    I have no idea whether or not it is regional. However, the ATC promotes it as what they are all about...Pete Pathfinder started the tradition of wearing priest collars and even does on the plane. My husband when he wears his outfit says he notices the difference...all doors open for him, people are all nice to him, and everyone seems to want to assist him.

    I think for us (the Temple) it is more about professionalism and where we want to be and go and how we see ourselves achieving that smoother and easier. Our goal is to have a place of worship equivalent to any other Religion a building we are proud of with daycare, classes, a main hall, dining hall, etc. We feel that if we conduct ourselves professionally and "look" the part we have moved our religion forward and will make it easier for those coming behind us. Yes, we realize its a choice..but we are going for that one. But like Pizza houses...you got Dominoes, Papa Johns, Pizza Hut, Little Ceasars, not all Pagans are going to choose us...and that is okay.

  10. Thank you for answering my questions. :)

  11. I believe that both sides of the energetic coin have their share of mysteries, and that men's mysteries are of equal value as women's.

    A couple of years ago, for Yule, I gave my favourite male a copy of "The Pagan Man," by Isaac Bonewits. He had never read Bonewits' work, and he appreciated that I saw him as part of the Divine. Our group had had its share of power struggles, but I think it all came down to that some of the women felt they deserved certain aspects of power, which they saw as theirs by right of being High Priestess and thus should run things. The men in the group felt, in many ways, like they had been pushed to the side or that they had to push their own energy into working on things by sheer force of personality. There was no balance.

    I came to Paganism looking for balance, particularly because I was raised Polish Catholic and saw so little respect for women for themselves, rather than as vessels or property of someone else.

    I respect male energy because it is equally creative in nature as female energy, though many tend to forget this. It can be destructive when plied in such a fashion, but so can female energy. Before working with the gifts we are given, a baseline of respect is required to work with others, in my opinion. For some, that leads them to work alone, or because they are solitary by nature, etc. For others, it is a challenge to deepen the respect they feel for Nature, Divine, and others as they find new respect for themselves.

    Each small group, whether it is a family, a coven, kindred, or any other gathering of like-minded religious, requires respect and love to make them work. Pure, agape love. Whatever is there, this is required to make things hold together. The rest is merely politics in comparison. And this is merely my opinion, but it's also the way I live my life. I hope this helps.

  12. At least on the Kemetic recon side of things we don't seem to have as much of the male/female polarity. (We have PLENTY of other problems, but that doesn't seem to be one of them.) But then we have Goddesses who have interests in what moderns would think were "male"- like Hathor with mining. And Gods who are concerned with "female" things, Hedjhotep with weaving, for instance. They are all so complicated that if you want to come up with something one-dimensional you have to ignore 90% of what's there.

    I was recently invited to take part in a small, private group doing devotionals to Nut. I was really surprised and flattered by that. It's something that could very easily been an exclusionary female mysteries thing.